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Red Sox notebook: Rafael Devers the only Red Sox player leading in MLB All-Star voting

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Rafael Devers could be the only Red Sox player in the starting lineup for the American League All-Star team at Dodger Stadium on July 19.

MLB announced the first ballot update for the All-Star Game on Tuesday and the Red Sox are struggling to get votes, though they have a couple players in the running.

Devers (727,669 votes) is narrowly leading Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez (711,367) to get the starting nod at third base, while Xander Bogaerts is third at the shortstop position and J.D. Martinez is third at designated hitter.

Boston Red Sox's Xander Bogaerts rounds the bases to score on an RBI-double hit by Alex Verdugo during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, June 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts rounds the bases to score on an RBI-double hit by Alex Verdugo during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, Calif., Saturday, June 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Devers (4.1 WAR) and Ramirez (3.9 WAR) rank No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in FanGraphs’ WAR among all position players thus far. Devers is hitting .330 with a .990 OPS to go with 16 home runs and 43 RBIs, while Ramirez is hitting .305 with a 1.039 OPS, 16 homers and 62 RBIs.

The top two vote-getters at each position will make it to Phase 2 of the voting period to see who gets the starting nod. Phase 2 players will be announced on June 30. After Phase 2, the starters will be announced on July 8 on ESPN.

In addition, the player with the most votes at any position in each league at the end of Phase 1 will earn a guaranteed starting position. As of Tuesday, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge was leading all vote-getters in the A.L. while the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts was leading in the N.L.

The full rosters will be revealed on July 10.

Bogaerts (525,202 votes) is just behind Tim Anderson (528,278) and Bo Bichette (585,744) at shortstop while Martinez is behind Shohei Ohtani (555,056) and Yordan Alvarez (835,669) at DH.

Manager Alex Cora said he thinks the All-Star selections mean a lot to the players, who “like to be loved” by the fans.

The Blue Jays are leading the A.L. with five players currently among the top-two at each position (and top six at outfield) while the Yankees are second with four players.

Yankees not slowing down

Cora was asked about the Yankees, who entered Tuesday 50-17 and are on pace to win 121 games.

“Well, last year we made it (over the Yankees) in the Wild Card and we got to October and were two wins away from making the World Series,” Cora said. “Yeah, they’re doing an outstanding job. They’re playing good baseball and we haven’t played them in a while. We have to take care of business. And actually today, we looked at the scoreboard and it looks better than yesterday.

“We just have to keep playing good baseball. When we play them, we’ll see where we’re at.”

Sale, others making progress

The Red Sox injury list should soon be getting shorter.

Chris Sale (stress fracture in rib cage) made his first rehab start in the Florida Complex League on Monday night, throwing one inning and allowing one run on a hit and a walk. He had one strikeout, whiffing the Rays’ Wander Franco, who is also on a rehab assignment.

Cora said Sale touched 96 mph with “a good slider, good changeup,” he said. “He decided that he was a little bit off as far as like command. But mechanically he felt good. Today, he moved around well. He’s ready for the next one.”

Sale will stay on a five-day starter schedule and pitch one more time in the Florida Complex League before he comes north to join one of the Sox’ affiliates in New England.

Christian Arroyo (COVID-19) and Josh Taylor (back strain) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Worcester on Tuesday. Arroyo will be the designated hitter but needs to see time in the infield before he’s activated, as soon as Friday in Cleveland. Taylor needs a lot of work before he’s ready to return.

Garrett Whitlock (hip inflammation) threw a simulated game and, if he feels good on Wednesday, could return to the Red Sox on the upcoming road trip.

Kiké Hernandez (hip flexor strain) is not doing as well. He “slowed down,” Cora said, and is feeling the injury more than expected. After taking swings on Monday, the Sox decided he’ll stop baseball activities and see how he reacts. If he doesn’t feel better with treatment, the Sox will call it a setback, Cora said.

Nathan Eovaldi (hip strain), has been able to work out in the gym, but unable to throw.

“We thought it was going to be quicker, but he hasn’t reacted the way we expected so we just have to be patient,” Cora said.

Because Eovaldi only has one speed (full), the Sox won’t let him start throwing until they’re sure he’s 100%, or close to it.

The Sox will continue to roll with a four-man rotation of Rich Hill, Michael Wacha, Nick Pivetta and Josh Winckowski, utilizing Thursday’s off-day.

Stealing freely

The Red Sox are 19-for-19 in stolen bases since May 14 after going 4-for-9 to start the year.

Cora credited bench coach Will Venable, who stole 135 bases in his nine-year big league career, and first base coach Ramon Vazquez for studying up on the opposing pitchers.

“They’ve done an amazing job looking for keys, tendencies, counts and all that,” Cora said. “We’re more athletic, this group, than earlier in the season. Trevor (Story) is really good at that. Jackie (Bradley Jr.) is getting on base more and more, so we can take advantage of it. Franchy (Cordero) brings another athlete. But the homework by those two, Ramon and Will, has put us in a good position to go.”

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