Cordero joining Boston 'a dream come true'

26-year-old outfielder focused on staying healthy in 2021

March 13th, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Franchy Cordero was traded to the Red Sox on Feb. 10, it was the second time he had been dealt in a span of seven months.

At least this time, Cordero is joining a team he is very familiar with.

“I’m super excited. I grew up a Red Sox fan,” Cordero said. “Being able to put on this uniform and play on that field [at Fenway Park] is going to be a dream come true. I’m really looking forward to it.”

So why did he grow up as Red Sox fan? For starters, Cordero is from Azua, Dominican Republic and many Boston games were televised during his youth. And the organization also had quite a few players who caught Cordero’s eye.

“When I was growing up as a kid in the D.R., those were the games that were always on. Boston Red Sox games. And I grew up a big David Ortiz fan, Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, even J.D. Drew,” Cordero said. “Those were guys I really liked watching as a kid. It’s something that was always fun to be able to see all the championships that were won during my youth. That’s what made me into a fan.”

Now, Cordero -- who was acquired from the Royals for Andrew Benintendi -- hopes to add to that championship legacy.

To do so, he will have to overcome what has been the biggest hurdle in his career -- injuries to countless body parts.

Despite over three years of Major League service time, Cordero has played in just 95 career games, all but 16 of them for the Padres and a fanbase in San Diego that kept thinking he was going to break out.

With an impressive toolbox that includes mammoth power, a strong throwing arm and plus speed, Cordero simply hasn’t been able to get the reps he needs to establish himself.

And he is already playing from behind this Spring Training, after testing positive for COVID-19 right before he was supposed to fly to Fort Myers. Asymptomatic the entire time, Cordero waited it out until he was given the all-clear to fly from the Dominican Republic.

Once Cordero did arrive, it took him over a week to clear the MLB protocols so he could start working out with his new team. Cordero has been getting his hacks on the back field and in sim games, and should get into Grapefruit League games by next week, which would give him about two weeks to be ready for Opening Day.

“I’m working hard on that,” Cordero said. “Hopefully I am ready for Opening Day. This is my third day in camp. Working out and getting myself back in shape the way I know how to. That’s the goal, trying to get better every single day.”

However, the Red Sox are cognizant of Cordero’s injury past and they aren’t going to rush him just so he can play on Opening Day.

“There’s always a chance, right? But we have to be very careful how we push him, because his health is more important than making the Opening Day roster,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “Everything is trending the right way. We just got to make sure, running-wise, he is where we want him to be, because obviously the time off and his history. He’s doing everything on the field, but we have to make sure that defensively we take care of him.

“Running the bases the same way. We feel comfortable where he’s at. Honestly, from my end, I thought he was going to be more behind, but that’s not the case.”

The 26-year-old Cordero has already huddled with the Red Sox’s training staff to find ways he can do a better job of maintaining his body over a full season.

“From the moment I got into the complex where I was allowed, even though I wasn’t allowed on the field with the guys, I sat down with the trainers and we had a plan in place,” Cordero said. “Just working on my mobility and keeping my muscles loose. That’s something they feel will help me and not have those injuries I had in the past.”

At a minimum, the Red Sox would like Cordero to play left field against righties. If he can figure out how to hit lefties, perhaps his role will expand.

The top goal for Cordero is just to bury those injuries so he can at last go about showing people exactly who he is as a baseball player.

“God willing, people will be able to see who the real Franchy Cordero is this year,” Cordero said.