Red Sox

Alex Cora doesn’t commit to Matt Barnes as closer, says he will be used in low-leverage situations

"We'll see how games go. We'll use him accordingly."

Matt Barnes
Boston Red Sox's Matt Barnes, center, hands the ball to manager Alex Cora after being taken out during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins. AP Photo/Michael Dwyer

Less than two months after making an All-Star team and inking a lucrative extension with the Red Sox, Matt Barnes might be in danger of losing his status as the Red Sox’s closer, at least for the time being.

On Tuesday, Barnes struggled once again — giving up a homer and a pair of walks before he was pulled in favor of Hansel Robles. Robles held onto the team’s 11-9 victory, but Barnes’ ERA has spiked in recent weeks.

After the game, Barnes said he would be willing to pitch in a set-up role if necessary as he tries to recover his form. On Wednesday, prior to the Red Sox’s game against the Twins, Red Sox manager Alex Cora was asked about Barnes’ comments.

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“We’ll see how the games go,” Cora said. “We’ll use him accordingly. I don’t want [to] say he’s not the closer, he is the closer, he’s the set-up guy, whatever. We’ve got [to] get him right, that’s the most important thing.”

Cora noted that other relievers around the league have struggled as well, most notably White Sox closer Liam Hendricks, whose wife caught him tipping pitches on TV.

“We’re always looking for [it] but you have to clean your stuff up, because the other teams are doing the same thing,” Cora said. “Hopefully it’s a tipping thing. Hopefully that’s the case.”

The Red Sox will try a variety of fixes, from mechanical solutions to putting Barnes out in “low-leverage” situations in hopes of rebuilding his confidence. If he isn’t the closer, Cora noted multiple relievers who could take over the role including Robles, Garrett Whitlock, and Garrett Richards.

“We got to keep searching, we’ve got to keep working,” Cora said. “He’s tough. As far as the way the fastball playing, and the breaking ball, numbers-wise, it’s pretty similar to earlier in the season. Obviously, the results are not there.”

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