Hernandez making big push for roster spot

Hernandez making big push for roster spot

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The way the Red Sox roster is constructed, right-handed hitter Josh Rutledge is the better fit for the final utility spot over lefty Marco Hernandez.

However, Hernandez is giving the club a little more to think about with each passing day.

The 24-year-old infielder belted two triples in Sunday's 13-8 loss to the Twins and is hitting .405 in Spring Training.

"He's had an outstanding spring. He's lighting things up," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "The way he runs the bases … you love the bat speed, the athleticism in multiple ways. So everything he can possibly do, he's doing. Where this leads us over his final 10 days, we'll figure all that out, but he's done himself a world of good in this camp."

Hernandez's leadoff triple

Boston already has one of the best utility players in the game in Brock Holt, who is a left-handed hitter. Hernandez also hits from the left side, which is why Rutledge at least looks like the better fit on paper.

If Rutledge makes the team, he is a good fit playing third base against lefties. Switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval is a far better hitter against righties.

Rutledge was also selected in the Rule 5 Draft, which means the Red Sox would have to offer him back to the Rockies if he doesn't make the 25-man roster.

While some players find a niche in a utility role, the Red Sox think it's too early to put a ceiling like that on Hernandez, who still has Minor League options. Hernandez can play second, short and third.

"To think back when we acquired him for Felix Doubront, he's grown in a number of ways," said Farrell. "Physically, he's maturing. He's getting bigger, he's getting stronger. He did a great job in the offseason of getting himself in shape with morning workouts and playing at night in the Dominican Winter League. He's an explosive player.

"We have him in this competition for a utility job. There's a lot of people who think he is an everyday player if you really start to break him down and look at what he's capable of doing. Yet he's in a group that's talented and deep, so [the competition] is ongoing."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.