Around the Red Sox clubhouse, you'll see the Spanish-speaking Rafael Devers joined by a translator. But make no mistake, the slugger knows plenty of English.
A lot of it gets put to use when things aren't going well for the Dominican Republic native at the plate. Before Friday night's game vs. Baltimore, manager Alex Cora talked about Devers hilariously swearing at himself in English when frustrated at the dish.
"I laughed with him," Cora told reporters. "I was like 'how come when you get upset, everything comes out in English in the batter's box?' He's like 'What?' 'Yeah, it's not clean. But he's awesome, man, I love that kid."
Along with the explicit language, Cora gets a kick out of the 22-year-old's mannerisms.
"It's funny," Cora said. "You see his body language and his reactions sometimes at the plate, slamming the bat and then talking to himself ... I can't say it now, but you read his lips and it's 'wow – you're that good?'"
Many expect Devers, who hit the walk-off single in Thursday night's game vs. Toronto, to take a major step forward in his development in year three of his career. Cora says though the third baseman can be hard on himself when he slips up, he's matured this year as a player.
"He can make adjustments now," said Cora. "Sometimes, it takes an at-bat or it takes a day but he understands where he's at and what he has to do. I think that's the biggest difference. The game, it will speed up certain days. I do feel that when he makes a mistake defensively, he takes it so hard. He's so hard on himself that it messes up his whole day, everything speeds up. When he's playing well defensively, he slows down. I think it's the fact that he wants to prove to everybody that he's a good defender, that he can play at this level. But when he's clear, it's cool to see, cool to see.
"You go back to what he did in October, the at-bats, hitting the ball up the middle on a 2-0 count, the way he slowed down the game, that's the most important thing with him. Like I told him, the whole not hitting third, it's not about you can't do it, it's just about how we're going to manage the game. He's in a good spot too. He's going to find traffic there. The more he stays disciplined, the more he stays in the zone, great things are going to happen, he's going to be OK."
Devers' bat has been quiet out the gate in 2019. In 13 games, he's hitting .271 with zero home runs and two RBIs (both earned Thursday night). The Red Sox hope that performance will be the spark to the breakout season they've been waiting for out of their young slugger.
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