Notes: Dalbec keeps mashing; Barnes' role

Pérez eyes start of 2021; Cora lays out Devers' improvement track

March 26th, 2021

Bobby Dalbec is emerging into a clear candidate for the American League’s Rookie of the Year Award.

Boston’s right-handed-hitting masher hammered his seventh homer of Spring Training on Thursday during the club's 7-4 loss to Minnesota. His total not only leads the Grapefruit League, but is also more than anyone has hit in the Cactus League.

His latest long ball was a towering shot to left-center off of a slider thrown by Twins righty Randy Dobnak.

Barnes continues to make case
Manager Alex Cora still hasn’t named his closer for the regular season, but Matt Barnes continues to deliver in his outings.

The veteran righty worked around a hit and a walk in a scoreless inning Thursday. Barnes hasn’t allowed a run in five appearances this spring.

His main competition for the job is Adam Ottavino, who also hasn’t given up an earned run in five outings.

Pérez ready to go
Though his linescore Thursday -- 4 IP, 5 H, 5 R (0 ER), 0 BB, 4 K -- would suggest otherwise, Red Sox lefty Martín Pérez is enthused with where he is at toward the end of Spring Training.

He was pleased to have no walks and to limit the damage in his last couple of innings.

“I mean, I threw a lot of strikes,” said Pérez. “I think I’m in shape, man. I’m ready to go. No walks. I was attacking the zone. Couple of hits with hard contact, but we’re just getting ready for the season. My arm is OK, and my last two innings were good. I think I was doing my job and I finished strong.”

Improvements in store for Devers?
Though third baseman Rafael Devers had a monster season the last time that Cora managed him in 2019, the skipper thinks the young lefty slugger can still take his game to another level.

The final steps will be better plate discipline and more consistent defense.

“We’re trying to actually control the strike zone [as a team], and if he can do that, we’ll see what happens,” Cora said. “That ’19 season was amazing, but at the same time, you look at it, his on-base percentage wasn’t as high as the season should have dictated. He had 200 hits and his on-base percentage was [.361], so he can be better. When he walks, he becomes more dangerous.”

As for the defense, Devers made his second error of Spring Training on Thursday, but Cora has seen signs of improvement.

“Defensively, [Wednesday] was his best day. Turning double plays, making the routine plays -- he’s been working hard at it,” said Cora. “We actually feel like he’s in good rhythm. Obviously he’ll make errors, and some of those -- like I told him -- is decision making. Those we can clean up. But as far as rhythm and where he’s at defensively, we’re very comfortable.”

Up next
Franchy Cordero will play his third game this week in left field when the Red Sox travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., to face the Rays on Friday with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. The left-handed hitter is trying to be ready for Opening Day after missing the first three weeks of Spring Training. Righty Thaddeus Ward, Boston’s No. 10 prospect via MLB Pipeline, will make the start. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts should also be back in the lineup after getting a night off Thursday. Fans can watch the game live on MLB.TV or MLB Network, or listen live.