The Boston Red Sox have started Ceddanne Rafaela as their shortstop for each game on this road trip against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Cleveland Guardians, and when asked if he was now the team's everyday starter at shortstop, manager Alex Cora confirmed that he is as of now.

“Right now, I believe so,” Alex Cora said, via Chris Cotillo of “We can say that.”

The Red Sox lost shortstop Trevor Story on April 5 to an injury that ended his season, and initially, Boston went with David Hamilton to fill the shortstop role. Ceddanne Rafaela started the season as the team's center fielder, and performed well in that role, flashing the glove there. The Red Sox organization views Rafaela as the center fielder of the future, so they were hesitant to move him off of that position when Trevor Story got hurt, according to Cotillo.

Since giving Rafaela a chance at shortstop, Cora has observed his abilities at the position, and he believes he has what it takes to perform well at that position.

“We've been able to slow down the game,” Cora said, via Cotillo. “You look at the homestand, there were three bad innings and we made a big deal out of it. But I think the range is real, the arm is different. We'll keep playing him there.”

It will be interesting to see how Rafaela fares, and if he can stake his claim to being the Red Sox's shortstop, which is the most difficult position to field. Center field is a valuable position to have a plus defender, and Rafaela was doing that, but shortstop would be even more valuable. For a player like Rafaela, whose value is mostly seen in his glove, it might make sense for the Red Sox to give him a long look at shortstop while Story recovers from his injury.

Red Sox's defensive struggles this season

The Red Sox have struggled on defense in the early going, but it has improved as of late on this road trip, and Cora credited that to a session that was held at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

“The first day in Pittsburgh, we showed up at 1 p.m., and it wasn't for early hitting. It was for early defense,” Cora said, via Cotillo. “It wasn't punishment. It was more like a mental part of like, ‘This is important for us. We have to play defense.' They had a great session there and then we did it again here (in Cleveland).”

The Red Sox entered Thursday with a 14-11 record ahead of the series finale with the Guardians. They hope to win the rubber game of the series before hosting the Chicago Cubs at Fenway Park this weekend for three games.