SEATTLE — If the Boston Red Sox are thinking of sending Rafael Devers back to the minors after trading for veteran infielder Eduardo Nunez, the 20-year-old top prospect seems intent on making the decision as difficult as possible.
Devers became the first Red Sox player since Daniel Nava in 2010 to homer for his first major league hit when he took Seattle Mariners right-hander Andrew Moore deep Wednesday at Safeco Field. Devers led off the third inning by crushing a fastball over the wall in straightaway center field to give Boston a 2-0 lead.
At 20 years and 275 days old, Devers is the youngest Red Sox player to hit a home run since Tony Conigliaro (20 years, 265 days) on Sept. 29, 1965. Devers became the youngest player in the majors this season when the Red Sox called him up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday.
Devers debuted Tuesday night and made a positive impression in a 13-inning, 5-4 loss to the Mariners. Despite going 0-for-4, Devers worked two walks, including a leadoff walk to kick-start a three-run rally in the sixth inning. He also made a smart read on the bases to advance to third on a wild pitch and handled a few tough plays at third base.
But after the Red Sox acquired Nunez late Tuesday night from the San Francisco Giants for two minor league pitchers, Devers’ roster spot seemed tenuous. Nunez isn’t expected to join the team until Friday, and neither president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski nor manager John Farrell was willing to commit to keeping Devers beyond Wednesday’s series finale in Seattle.
“We haven’t made our decision what we’re going to do yet,” said Dombrowski, who added that Nunez “will play a lot for us.”
The Red Sox could use Nunez and Devers in a third-base platoon. But they also could decide to keep utility infielder Deven Marrero on the roster. Marrero is a better defensive third baseman than Nunez or Devers and could be used as a late-inning replacement.