BALTIMORE – It wasn’t long ago that Rafael Devers had quite a string going, with hits in eight straight games and five homers in the span of six contests.
Just two months into his major league career, he’s in the middle of a streak he would rather not have: after Tuesday night, Devers had committed errors in five consecutive games, giving him 13 in 48 games.
John Farrell noted recently that the errors could be nothing more than fatigue for Devers, who, at 20, is playing his first full season of pro ball, having never before competed into September. As such, Devers will be out of the lineup Wednesday, and with the team’s scheduled off-day Thursday, will have the benefit of two straight days of rest before the final 10 days of the season.
Early in his call-up, the errors Devers was making were often of the throwing variety, and the result of him sometimes hurrying throws that he need not hurry. Lately, they’ve tended to be fielding errors, with balls clanging off his glove.
The latter suggests they could be the result of the rookie simply not being in the proper position to react to hard-hit grounder and high hops.
“It’s easily remedied for a player who comes here being mechanically sound,’’ said third base coach and infield instructor Brian Butterfield, who declined to get into specifics about what he’s seen during the recent fielding slump. “He’s just run into a little bit of a glitch. We’ll get it squared away in no time. It’s a minor detail.’’
“I try not to get too hung up on it,’’ said Devers through a translator, ‘’and just continue playing. If I make an error, I don’t go out there thinking about it too much. I’m ready for the next ball hit to me.’’
Teammates Eduardo Nunez and Xander Bogaerts have made sure that Devers’s confidence stays high by advising him to not dwell on mistakes while focusing on the next play.
Devers insists that the longer season and heavier game workload haven’t been an issue.
“Physically, I feel pretty good,’’ Devers maintained. “In the off-season, you work hard to play in the big leagues and you prepare for that. I don’t feel tired.’’
Butterfield, however, isn’t entirely convinced.
“I’m sure (playing in September) for the first time has a little bit to do with it,’’ said Butterfield. “You compound that with seeing some failure that he’s not used to having and there might be some mental and physical fatigue, combined. That wears on a guy.
“I do know this: the impressive thing about him is he cares about the little things. He cares about his defense, about holding up his end of the bargain. You look at his composure as a 20-year-old and it’s pretty impressive.’’