The Red Sox brought in Enrique Hernandez and Marwin Gonzalez to provide versatility on the field and in the lineup. That much is true.
What is also true, however, is that the pair of veteran utilitymen were signed by Boston for their sage wisdom and leadership abilities as well.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora has prior connections with both players. He’s known Hernandez since the former Dodgers fan favorite was a kid growing up in Puerto Rico and he served as Gonzalez’s bench coach with the Astros in 2017.
Given those connections, it’s safe to assume that Cora played a role in recruiting both Hernandez and Gonzalez, both of whom won World Series with their previous clubs, to Boston and ensured that the two would not only play key roles on the field, but off the field as well.
“There’s something about those guys and the experience of being with winners that they can add to the equation here,” Cora said Thursday. “As you know, my expectations are the same as the fanbase and it’s to play in October and win a championship. Guys like that, when they talk in the clubhouse and they talk baseball, it’s loud and clear.”
As Cora put it, Hernandez, 29, and Gonzalez, who turns 32 on Sunday, have the “green light” to speak up in the clubhouse in order to help those around them.
One way in which those two are already utilizing that green light is by talking with Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts about their defense.
“They connected with Raffy already,” said Cora. “You can see those two — Marwin and Enrique — talking to him a lot about defense. And it’s a tradeoff. The way they see it is like, ‘OK, we’ll help Xander and Raffy defensively, they’ll help us offensively. And we’ll be good.’ So, it’s a good tradeoff.”
For some veterans, being put in Hernandez’s and Gonzalez’s position would not be easy simply because of the fact they are new to an organization and are already being asked to undertake a vocal leadership role.
Despite that potential hurdle, Cora did not seem all that concerned that the two versatile infielders/outfielders would have any difficulty in familiarizing themselves with their new teammates.
“I told them straight up: We have a bunch of humble kids here,” the Sox skipper recounted. “Like I told you guys in ’18, I think the eye-opening thing about that team was the media during the playoffs was like, ‘They’re just such good kids and they’re such a good group.’ Like I told you guys, I wanted them to be cocky and go out there and do your thing in ’18. I had to push these guys to be something else, like if you hit a home run, enjoy it.
“It’s not the same group, but we still have two very good kids at shortstop and at third base,” he added. “I think these guys are going to push them to be leaders and push them to speak to the group. They know already, and they have the confidence of the manager — not only on the field, but off the field — and I think that means a lot. Whatever they have on their mind, they always come up to me and I tell them that’s a good way to put it or I tell them not to do it.
“They know they have my support in anything they want to do in the clubhouse.”
(Picture of Rafael Devers, Enrique Hernandez, Marwin Gonzalez, and Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)