While Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers continues to show that he is one of baseball’s most electric stars under the bright lights of the postseason, he is also out to prove that he is capable of mastering a second language.
Devers, a native Spanish speaker out of the Dominican Republic, has been working on improving his English since last offseason and — per The Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham — “was proud to show it off when he reported to spring training.
As noted by Abraham, the 24-year-old was more than happy to converse in English in informal settings, but requested that a translator be present whenever he was taking part in a formal interview.
This continued to be the case throughout the regular season, as Devers was flanked by interpreters such as Bryan Almonte or Rey Fuentes whenever he would speak with the media over Zoom or on the field with NESN’s Jahmai Webster.
On Thursday, however, something was different. While the Red Sox partook in a team workout at Minute Maid Park on the eve of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series against the Astros, Devers was approached by WCVB’s Duke Castiglione.
With no one else by his side, Devers spoke directly with Castiglione, and part of their interview was featured in SportsCenter 5’s 1-Minute Drill later that day.
“I try to be better everyday and we’ll see what happens in this series,” Devers said, in English, when asked about his right forearm injury.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon, with a voluntary workout taking place at Fenway Park, and Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about Devers’ growing list of postseason accomplishments and what the future might hold for the first time All-Star.
Devers, who turns 25 next week, clubbed a second-inning grand slam as part of a 1-for-4 showing at the plate for Boston in which he also drew a walk in Saturday’s 9-5 series-evening win over the Astros in Houston.
That performance raised his slash line this postseason to a sturdy .310/.412/.621 over seven games and 34 plate appearances. His three home runs in the playoffs rank second on the Red Sox behind only the red-hot Enrique Hernandez, while his 10 RBI lead the club. And he’s doing this while experiencing discomfort in his right forearm, remember.
When speaking with reporters on Sunday, Cora made sure to give Devers plenty of props for what he has done on the field throughout the month of October, but he credited the young infielder for what he has been doing off the field as well.
“His baseball IQ is amazing. He is a great person,” Cora said. “I was talking to Marly [Rivera of ESPN] yesterday about his willingness to learn a second language because we know what that means for his career. He knows what it means for his platform. [Boston] is a city that has embraced a lot of Dominican players, a lot of Latin players. If you look at the Celtics with [Al] Horford, and you see David [Ortiz] and Pedro [Martinez], what they mean to the community and what they have done off the field because they learned that second language.
“And Raffy, if he keeps doing what he is doing, we’re going to be talking about him that way because he is very likable,” added Cora. “He is a good kid. He enjoys playing the game. He enjoys this atmosphere, and he is doing everything possible to get to that echelon.”
Outside of his quick conversation with WCVB last week, it does not appear as though Devers has done any interviews solely in English.
That could change relatively soon, as Devers made a deal with Abraham in the spring that he would give him his first English interview if the Red Sox made it to the World Series. They are now just three wins away from doing so.
(Picture of Rafael Devers: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)