SEATTLE – Rafael Devers could be forgiven if he doesn’t know if he’s coming or going.
Just three days ago, Devers took the longest plane ride of his life, from Boston to Seattle, to join the Red Sox. He made his major league debut Tuesday at Safeco Field, and before he could take his uniform off, the Red Sox traded for Eduardo Nunez, who happens to place the same position as Devers.
Then, in his second start, Devers pounded a 400-foot homer to straightaway center for his first major league hit. He then added a sharp single two at-bats later.
He’s handled all the plays at third over 22 innings. All of which might enable him to remain with the Sox when they make a roster move to make room for Nunez’s arrival Friday at Fenway. Or not.
By then, barring something unforeseen, either Deven Marrero or Devers will have to go back to Pawtucket. Devers hasn’t had long to make his case, but in the brief time, he’s at least made his point.
“He hasn’t hurt his cause, by any means, by what he’s done in a very short look,’’ said John Farrell. “Today was a display of what he’s capable of doing. He’s taken care of what he can on his end.’’
Devers has shown uncommon maturity for a 20-year-old. Where it might have been more modest to answer, “No,’’ when asked if he knew the swing he took against Andrew Moore in the second would result in a homer, Devers told the truth.
“I knew it was going out,’’ he said with a bit of a shy smile, “but of course, I have to run hard out of the box. But I knew it was going out. It was surreal, to be honest with you. When I got back to the dugout, I could barely walk. I was just so happy.’’
After all, it had been 52 years since a Red Sox player that young had connected for a homer. Being linked to Tony Conigliaro is pretty good company to be in for a Red Sox phenom.
It’s that raw power that so intrigues the Sox and could be just what their sputtering lineup needs. He may not have the versatility or the defensive ability of Marrero, but he does have a strong, quick stroke that can produce runs in a hurry. Such a quality is in short supply for the Red Sox, who rank last in the American League in homers.
Tellingly, Devers has passed the eye test. In his first week in the big leagues, he doesn’t appear to be the least bit overwhelmed.
“He looks very much at ease,’’ said Farrell, “whether defensively or in the box.’’
“I haven’t really thought much about what’s to come,’’ he said of the roster maneuvering that will determine his immediate fate. “But my thought it, wherever they put me, I’m going to give 110 percent and the cards are going to fall where they may.’’