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Glenn Hoffman Is Happy to Be Contributing

The Hartford Courant

He’s fifth on the club in slugging. Only Jim Rice, Bill Buckner, Dwight Evans and Rich Gedman have slugged higher.

He’s fifth on the team in getting on base. Only Buckner, Evans, Gedman and Marty Barrett have gotten on base more often.

And he hits ninth in the Red Sox’ batting order, but at this time last year -- and even when this season started -- shortstop Glenn Hoffman sat on the Boston bench.

But the man least excited about Hoffman’s sudden success on the diamond is Glenn Hoffman himself.

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“I’m just happy I’m contributing,” says Hoffman. “I’m happy to do whatever I can.”

A year ago, he had his chance. Hoffman had injured his left knee and underwent surgery late in September of ’83, but when Boston opened its 1984 schedule in Anaheim, Calif., Hoffman was the Red Sox starter at shortstop.

Hoffman lasted for just 20 of the first 31 games, knocking in only four runs while batting a meager .173. When the Red Sox played the second game of a three-date series in Kansas City on May 12, Jackie Gutierrez was the Red Sox’ starter at short.

Hoffman started only four games for Boston the rest of 1984. He only went to bat just 22 times during the last five months of the season and was credited with five hits. He didn’t knock in a Red Sox baserunner after April 29.

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“Nobody likes to sit on the bench,” said Hoffman. “But I wasn’t really disappointed. I wasn’t surprised. When they took me out of the starting lineup last year, it gave my bad knee a chance to heal.

“And besides, Jackie Gutierrez played well. He deserved to be the Red Sox’ shortstop, not me. I still worked hard all summer, and I was ready if they needed me. They just didn’t need me.”

Gutierrez finished the season batting .263. Hoffman closed out the season at .189 and, when the Red Sox broke camp this spring and flew North to open the regular season, it was no big surprise that Gutierrez was the starter at shortstop. Hoffman sat on the bench.

He stayed there for almost the first seven weeks of the season, starting three games in late April. Then the Red Sox went on a 10-game May road trip and, on the final stop in Texas, Gutierrez mysteriously strained a knee. Hoffman was called on to replace him on that night of May 25 in Arlington, and he has started every Red Sox game since.

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Gutierrez is healthy now, but Hoffman is hitting and playing so well that Boston Manager John McNamara won’t take him out of the lineup.

Hoffman has been the Red Sox’ starting shortstop for 30 consecutive games and he has been charged with just one error in the field. But it has been five years -- since his first season in the majors when he batted .285 -- that he has had a better year at the plate.

“I wanted to help out and I’m glad I am.”

Hoffman was batting .270 through Thursday, with an on-base percentage of .342 and a slugging percentage of .433.

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“I worked at my hitting last winter,” Hoffman said. “I lifted weights every day, strengthened my knee and I took extra batting practice whenever I could.

“And for one thing, I’m not wearing my knee brace now. The hard work is paying off, and I feel good.”


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