Mason: Rafael Devers recognized for monster month of May

Rafael Devers and Michael Chavis both picked up some hardware in the month of May (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Around the Horn is a weekly column from Chris Mason, where the Eagle-Tribune beat writer offers nine thoughts from the Red Sox clubhouse.

This week’s installment focuses on a team that's still stuck idling in the mud, sitting 30-29 two months into the season. 

1. Devers hitting ceiling — and everything else

Nobody was better than Rafael Devers in the month of May and the 22-year-old has the hardware to prove it. 

Devers was named the American League's Player of the Month, hitting .351 (40-for-114) with seven doubles, a triple, eight homers and 24 RBIs; he got so hot that Alex Cora moved him into the cleanup spot.

The third baseman's average sits at .316 during a breakout season, and his .870 OPS trails only Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez. He's becoming an increasingly dangerous bat in the middle of the Red Sox lineup. 

"I remember I was telling Devers, 2015, I hit .320, but that was like a soft .320," Bogaerts told reporters in New York. "I told him it’s pretty impressive the way he was hitting .320, because he’s been doing it driving the ball, also getting his knocks here and there, but most have been him driving the ball. Definitely proud to see how he’s doing it compared to my weak one."

2. Rook gets a nod, too

Devers wasn't the only infielder to pick up an award, as Michael Chavis was also named the AL's Rookie of the Month, first Red Sox player to win it since Andrew Benintendi in August of 2017.  

The infielder homered seven times and drove in 19 last month, but things are getting more complicated for Chavis. 

3. Chess match intensifies 

Ever since A.J. Hinch revealed the Astros plan to attack Chavis with fastballs two weeks ago, other teams have started to emulate that, too. 

A terrific low-ball hitter, opponents have begun pounding Chavis with four-seamers up in the zone. Though the power numbers are there, he's struck out 24 times in his last 69 plate appearances, and it's on him to adapt.  

"There’s more information, yeah," Cora said. "It doesn’t take long for teams to adjust. You get information from the minor leagues. You get the data right away." 

4. Price bails Sox out

Though he'd struggled at Yankee Stadium in the past, it made sense that David Price was the one to made sure the Red Sox wouldn't be swept in the Bronx. Price has been far and away Boston's most consistent starter this season. 

"We needed to come out and beat those guys the way that we did. That was big for us.... It feels good," Price said. "To pitch well in a place I haven’t pitched well in a while, against a team that’s given me problems, it feels good." 

5. All-Star form again

Might Price be joining Cora at the All-Star Game this July? 

"When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers in the big leagues," Cora said. "You start looking at the scoreboard and the numbers it’s like, whoa, the ERA is there and the WHIP is there and the strikeouts are there. He’s been great."

The lefty's 2.83 ERA ranks eighth among AL pitchers that have logged at least 50 innings. A five-time All-Star, Price hasn't been to the Midsummer Classic since 2015. 

6. Sale somehow 1-7

On the other hand, Chris Sale won't be starting the All-Star Game for the first time since joining the Red Sox.

He's deserved better than his 1-7 record would indicate, but still isn't close to the level he can pitch at. Sale's 4.35 ERA would easily be a career high. 

"It's not where I want to be. It’s not where I want to be," Sale repeated. "It’s not who I am. It’s not who I’ve ever been. I have to find a way to be better whether it’s going out there and throwing up more zeroes, being able to pick up my guys when we’re scuffling a little bit." 

7. New approach, new result

Bogaerts is well on his way to another career year — his on-base and slugging percentages have never been higher — and the shortstop credits a different outlook for the improvement. 

"I think my mindset has changed," Bogaerts said. "I remember before, I used to see a big hole up the middle and just wanted  to get a base hit up the middle, run hard, maybe get an infield hit. I don’t think like that  anymore. I think it’s the mindset I go up to the plate with. I still see that big hole, but it’s not something I want to do. I want to drive it.

"It’s being in a good position to drive the ball," he concluded. "That’s something different."

As Cora is fond of saying, Bogaerts is doing damage.

8. What could have been

Red Sox fans got a look at Adam Ottavino over the weekend, as the nasty Yankees reliever nailed down a couple of holds in their two wins. 

A free agent last winter, Ottavino reportedly had interest in coming to Boston, but Dave Dombrowski never reciprocated. He wound up singing a three-year, $27 million deal in New York; meanwhile, the Red Sox bullpen looks a high-octane arm or two short. 

9. Nunez...walks?

It sure doesn't happen often, but Eduardo Nunez worked a walk over the weekend, his third free pass of the season. 

Of batters with at least 100 plate appearances, Nunez's 3.0% walk rate is the third lowest in all of baseball. The utility infielder swings early and often.