Red Sox feel Ceddanne Rafaela ‘getting closer’ to offensive breakout

BOSTON — Alex Cora and the Boston Red Sox coaching staff continue to emphasize the importance of throwing good pitches when teaching rookie Ceddanne Rafaela.

“The only thing we want him to do is control the strike zone,” Cora said Monday morning before the Red Sox took the field for their Patriots’ Day game against the Cleveland Guardians. “He swung a lot and chased a lot. I have to come back to dominate the strike zone. If he does that, he becomes a good hitter.

Rafaela did a much better job with this in the series opener against Cleveland.

“Good swings today,” Cora said of Rafaela a few hours later, after Boston’s 6-0 loss at Fenway Park. “We are getting closer. We are getting closer. He hit the ball in the air three times, I think it was. It was carried. More throws in the zone than he could handle. So, here we come.

Story continues below advertisement

Rafaela flew out to center field in the third inning after connecting on an 83 mph slider in the zone. He then flew out to left field in the fifth inning after hitting another 83 mph slider into the zone. And Rafaela closed it out by flying out to center, this time hitting a four-seam fastball into the zone.

In his first and third at-bats combined, Rafaela saw three sliders pass for balls out of the zone. And even though Rafaela ultimately didn’t have success thanks to his improved plate discipline (0 for 3), he noticed the difference much like Cora did.

“I think I was swinging at good pitches, avoiding bad pitches,” Rafaela said after the game. “I think that’s it. Nothing really mechanical. I think it’s just hitting the right balls.

Rafaela entered Monday’s game hitting .170 with 14 strikeouts in 53 plate appearances. His numbers will not improve after the enhanced release. But that doesn’t mean his feel at the plate isn’t going in the right direction.

Story continues below advertisement

Just like Cora, Rafaela knows it too.

“I’m not at the point I want to be, but I’ve started to feel better lately,” Rafaela said. “I mean, finding the barrel is a start. So here it comes.

Rafaela will have the opportunity to continue his momentum when the Red Sox return to Fenway Park on Tuesday night. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET and you can watch it live on NESN.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *