Red Sox add Hernández to group vying to replace Pedroia

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OSTON — For three seasons the Boston Red Sox have entered spring training hoping that Dustin Pedroia would be able to make a return to second base on a full-time basis after the franchise stalwart had his career disrupted by a knee injury in 2017.

Those hopes ended when the four-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove winner announced his retirement, concluding what had been a merry-go-round of surgeries, rehab attempts and setbacks for the longest-tenured player on Boston’s roster and the only holdover from the 2007 championship team.

The Red Sox took another step in moving on when they officially announced the signing of infielder Enrique Hernández to a two-year contract for a reported $14 million.

“The team has a lot of really good players…probably the reason I wanted a two-year deal instead of one is I get invested in teams and my teammates,” he said.

Speaking of the expectations Boston fans have for their teams, he added: “I know that they’re not going to be OK with a multiple-year playoff drought.”

While the 29-year-old doesn’t have Pedroia’s experience, he offers yet another injection of youth and versatility at second, a position that has been seen a platoon of players since Pedroia’s injury.

Hernández is a career .240 hitter with 71 homers with 227 RBIs in seven seasons, most of them with the Dodgers. He played 48 games in the pandemic-shortened season last year and 17 more in the postseason, batting .308 with two homers to help Los Angeles beat the Atlanta Braves in the NL Championship Series en route to winning the World Series. He also was a member of the Dodgers’ 2018 World Series team that lost to Boston.

“It’s never every day you can go from a franchise like the LA Dodgers to another one like the Boston Red Sox,” Hernández said.

He arrives in a time the Red Sox are looking to reset after following up their 2018 championship season by missing the playoffs each of the last two years.

Hernández can play multiple positions but spent 30 of 48 regular-season games in 2020 at second base and has played 200 games there during his career. He’ll enter spring training joining a group of players who’ve spent time at second, including Christian Arroyo, Michael Chavis and Jonathan Arauz.

“The goal is to come in and be the everyday second baseman,” Hernández said. “But I also understand how valuable it is for me to move around and play, I guess you could say, above average defense at multiple positions.”

He said he was told that he can expect to get at least some time in center and in the other outfield positions as well. He also could occasionally relieve Xander Bogaerts at shortstop, a position he played growing up.

“It keeps it fun for me,” Hernández said.

He also is looking forward to playing for manager Alex Cora, who he has known since he was 10 years old. Hernández’s father was a scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates and also was a winter ball coach in Caguas, Puerto Rico — Cora’s hometown.

In addition, Hernández played for Team Puerto Rico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic when Cora served as its general manager.

He said he talked to Cora about five or six times this past offseason, keeping a running dialogue of calls and text messages. He also sought advice from current Dodgers and former Red Sox players David Price, Mookie Betts and Joe Kelly, who all raved about Cora. It helped to make his decision to sign in Boston that much easier.

Hernández said being able to play for a Puerto Rican manager will be special.

“Coming over and playing for Alex, I don’t know if I can say it’s a dream come true because when I was a kid I was just imagining myself playing in the big leagues,” Hernández said. “But it’s pretty close.”

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.