Devers has slowly accepted the direction of teammates and coaches about being a more patient hitter, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reports. When Devers made his MLB debut before his 21st birthday, he was a raw, free swinger that got by on natural talent. The next step was for the free-spirited Devers to avoid swinging at bad pitches. The now 22-year-old third baseman has listened and adopted the coaching, and it's important that he doesn't fall back into old habits. "There's a two-way conversation now," hitting coach Tim Hyers said. "It's not just us feeding information to him. So now, as a hitting coach, I'm seeing the progression that we're onto something. That's a really good sign when he came in the other day and said, 'I want to work on this. I expanded in and want to make sure my sights are in this spot.' So he just worked on that for a while. For a young guy to use his time wisely like that. It was really neat to see." Manager Alex Cora has challenged Devers this spring, slotting him third in the batting order. If he's to become the primary three hitter, he knows he needs to control the strike zone and avoid getting himself out. "It would be an honor to hit third, but I have to keep working and show that I deserve to be there," he said. Judging from his spring numbers, Devers appears to have fully accepted what he's being told. He's batting .478 (11-for-23) with a 1.261 OPS.
Devers went 3-for-3 with a homer and two RBI in Wednesday's game against the Rays. Devers opened up the scoring Wednesday with an RBI single in the first inning. The youngster added a solo home run -- his first of spring -- in the third inning before capping his day with another single in the fifth frame. Devers has collected five hits in eight at-bats through a trio of Grapefruit League games.
Devers hired a nutritionist over the offseason and has focused on improving his conditioning throughout the winter, Chris Cotillo of MassLive.com reports. "I feel healthy right now," Devers said in January. "I think I'm in a good place. Last year, I had a lot of injuries and I think it was a product of the weight." Officially listed at six-foot, 237 pounds, Devers hasn't tracked his weight loss over the last few months, but Cotillo notes that the third baseman is noticeably slimmer than he was during his first two seasons with Boston. Conditioning issues may have contributed in part to Devers requiring three stints on the disabled list between last July and August, with a pair of hamstring injuries in particular proving problematic. The missed time coupled with a 44-point slide in batting average made Devers' sophomore season a disappointing one, but improved health and another year of experience should increase the 22-year-old's odds of tapping into more of his considerable upside in 2019.
Devers went 1-for-2 with a sixth-inning three-run homer during Boston's pennant-clinching 4-1 win over the Astros on Thursday. Devers hit his first home run of the postseason off Justin Verlander to provide the Red Sox with the winning margin. The 21-year-old is now 7-for-20 in the postseason, and has driven in seven runs after compiling a .240 average with 21 home runs and 66 RBI in the regular season.
Devers will head to the bench for Game 3 of the ALCS against the Astros on Tuesday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Devers drew the start at the hot corner in Sunday's victory, but he'll head back to the bench with Eduardo Nunez expected to take over at third base. Devers is 4-for-10 with a walk, two RBI and four runs scored through three games this postseason. He'll certainly be an option to pinch hit in the later innings.
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