Kiké Hernandez served as the leadoff hitter in 57 games during in his six season with the Dodgers, and Red Sox Manager Alex Cora plans to use him regularly in that role. Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

Kiké Hernandez seems to have found the fit he’s always wanted.

Not only is Hernandez getting the opportunity to be the everyday second baseman for the Boston Red Sox, but Manager Alex Cora is giving him the chance to have the keys to the offensive engine as the leadoff hitter.

And he’s seizing it.

“He said he’s going to challenge me,” Hernandez said, repeating what the manager has said throughout the spring. “He wanted me to come into camp and set as a goal for me to be the leadoff guy of this team and I told him that I believe that I can do it and I was up for the challenge. …

Kiké Hernandez looks on during workouts at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida. Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox

“So far, it’s going pretty good.”

That might be an understatement. In his first three games this spring, Hernandez has batted leadoff in each and reached base in seven of his first eight plate appearances with three walks, two doubles and a home run.

Of course, it’s early, it’s only spring training and Cora warned after Wednesday’s 14-6 rout of the Twins that Hernandez is known to have good springs. But the Red Sox believe in his offensive potential and are excited to unlock it.

After six seasons with the Dodgers as mostly a super-sub utility player, it’s exactly the kind of situation the 29-year-old Hernandez was looking for this winter in free agency. A career .240 hitter with a .313 on-base percentage, he didn’t get the consistent playing time he needed to reach his offensive ceiling. But that’s all changing with the Red Sox.

Though Cora is challenging him, Hernandez isn’t putting any pressure on himself to perform this spring. He seems to be at ease in his new situation, knowing he has the confidence from the club that he can do the job he’s always wanted.

“I feel like in the last couple of years, I always wanted to be an everyday guy and at times, I tried to prove too much and it ended up working against me,” Hernandez said. “This year, these guys are trusting that I’m more than capable of being an everyday guy. Every year, I would go into camp trying to win an everyday job and this year, it’s a little different where I’m able to just play and think about getting ready for the season and just trying to work on different situations and do the little things.

“That’s the biggest difference for me. I’m not going to try to prove anything. They know what I can do and it’s just a matter of just playing freely and doing what I can do and everything else is going to take care of itself.”

Red Sox hitting coach Tim Hyers was the assistant hitting coach for the Dodgers in 2016 and 2017, and that familiarity also played a factor in Hernandez choosing Boston. Hyers said he sees a player in Hernandez who’s more consistent in his daily approach than he was in ’16 and ’17. Now, Hernandez understands himself more, his moves in the batter’s box are cleaner and he knows his body better.

“I just think now, we’re getting him at a perfect time,” Hyers said. “We’re getting a mature player, a guy who’s been on a winning team, he’s won, he’s been playoff-tested and I think he’s coming into his own. That’s the part that I’m really excited about.”

When Hyers coached him in 2016 and 2017, the knock on Hernandez was that he couldn’t hit breaking balls, especially from righties, but his numbers since then have steadily improved. And he’s always been comfortable with hitting fastballs, which he’ll be hunting for in his new role with the Red Sox.

That role will be much different than he’s accustomed to. With the Dodgers, Hernandez often hit low in the order, and if he wasn’t starting, he was often coming on late as a substitute, and he flourished as that spark plug. But though he only started as the leadoff hitter 57 times in six years with the Dodgers, Hernandez believes it suits him.

“It’s a spot I’m comfortable with,” Hernandez said. “I always think that if I get to hit in the first inning, I feel like I’m more in the game than when I’m in the bottom of the lineup and I have to wait until late in the second or in the third inning. It just kind of feels like it’s been a few innings and you have yet to hit.”

Cora likes his leadoff hitters to be aggressive, like Mookie Betts was in 2018, and Hernandez will certainly be looking for pitches to hit right away, as he’s shown this spring. But he knows how important it is to get on base for an explosive lineup behind him that includes Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez.

“I’m a good fastball hitter, so sometimes I’ll be ready to hit early from the first pitch in the game on,” Hernandez said. “We got a pretty good lineup and for me, try to put a good AB together and either make good contact and drive the ball somewhere or just be selective and take your walk and that’s basically what I’m trying to work on right now.”

So far, it’s working, and at this rate, Cora may not have much of a choice but to pencil Hernandez into the No. 1 spot on his lineup card for Opening Day.

“I believe in him and I think he can,” Hyers said. “I don’t think he has to prove himself in spring training. I would just say more, give us quality at-bats and then when the season starts, I think the course of time will tell if he can maintain that. I think he’s really focused. We’re in a good spot. We have a player who’s focused, wanting to prove that he’s supposed to be in there and I think if he gets consistent ABs, he can show everybody what he’s capable of doing.”

MATT ANDRIESE started for the Red Sox against the Orioles on Thursday. He pitched two perfect innings in Boston’s 6-3 loss.

Andriese, a righty who Boston signed this offseason to a one-year $2.1 million contract with a 2022 option, recorded two flyouts, two lineouts, one groundout and one strikeout.

Tanner Houck followed Andriese and recorded just two outs. He gave up three runs, all earned, two hits and five walks.

Jarren Duran, Boston’s No. 2 outfield prospect, hit his second home run and his second double.

INJURY UPDATE: Shortstop Xander Bogaerts (shoulder) resumed his throwing program and is progressing well, Cora said. Bogaerts took 30 swings off the tee each of the last two days.

Bogaerts dealt with shoulder soreness early in camp, causing the Red Sox to shut him down from throwing for a few days. It’s unclear when he’ll be able to start playing in games, though Cora believes Bogaerts will be ready to go for Opening Day.

Infielder Michael Chavis (back tightness) was scratched from Wednesday’s lineup and held out of Thursday’s game, Cora said. Chavis is day-to-day.

• Outfielder Franchy Cordero, who is still on the COVID-19 related injured list, has not yet cleared the intake screening process and has been unable to join the team for workouts.

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