SAN FRANCISCO — The Red Sox called up their top prospect on Monday. But 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts wasn’t in the starting lineup against the San Francisco Giants.
Bogaerts is joining the Sox to provide depth on the left side of the infield and not necessarily to play every day, manager John Farrell said. The plan is to start him on Tuesday night and go from there.
“It’s definitely an exciting day,” said Bogaerts, who was playing dominoes with some teammates at Triple A Pawtucket when he got a telephone call on Sunday night summoning him to Boston. “I was surprised.”
Farrell said the righthanded-hitting Bogaerts would complement lefthanded-hitting shortstop Stephen Drew.
“That’s not to say a platoon situation by any means,” the manager said. “We’ll look to find the best matchups.”
Drew has hit well since coming off the disabled list July 20. But he also was hitting .195 with a .593 OPS against lefthanders this season entering Monday's game.
Farrell said Bogaerts would also play at third base. But he indicated there would be more games at shortstop for the rookie.
“Will Middlebrooks has done an excellent job since coming back to us,” Farrell said. “He’s more relaxed in the box . . . We feel like Xander’s presence can help us go up against some good lefthanded starters.”
Bogaerts hit .297 with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs in 116 games for Double A Portland and Pawtucket. He hit .298 with a .926 OPS against lefties in Triple A. Scouts and other talent evaluators generally rate Bogaerts as one of the top three or four prospects in baseball.
“You’re talking about a young, exciting offensive player; really a very good player all around,” Farrell said. “At 20 years of age, he’s still developing. He is a person in his abilities who will give us a shot in the arm and make an impact here.”
Farrell claimed the promotion was not related to the Red Sox losing seven of 10 games and three series in a row.
“It’s an opportunity while we’re on the road to bring Xander here and get his career started,” Farrell said.
Bogaerts is the first native of Aruba in the majors since righthander Sidney Ponson in 2009. Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who managed Bogaerts in the World Baseball Classic, was happy to hear of the promotion.
“The more guys from the islands who come up, it makes us feel proud because our program is working, the talent is there. We put a lot of work in with these guys. Now they get here and they get to show it off,” he said.
Bogaerts was at AT&T Park for the semifinals of the WBC March 18 but didn’t play for the Netherlands.
The Sox optioned Brock Holt back to Pawtucket to make room for Bogaerts on the roster. Middlebrooks, Farrell said, is now the backup second baseman.
Given that he has never played second base, that would certainly be interesting.
De La Rosa demoted
The Red Sox also made a bullpen move. Rubby De La Rosa was demoted to Pawtucket after a series of rocky outings and righthander Brayan Villarreal was called up.
Villarreal, 26, was obtained from the Tigers July 30 as part of the three-team trade that landed Jake Peavy.
“Given what we’ve had to come through the last couple of nights out of the bullpen, we needed a guy who had the ability to pitch a couple of innings, a fresh arm,” Farrell said.
Villarreal had a strong 2012 season for the Tigers, appearing in 50 games and posting a 2.63 earned run average. He struck out 66 in 54⅔ innings and allowed only 38 hits.
Villarreal started this season with Detroit but was hit hard in seven games and dropped to Triple A Toledo. A thumb injury set him further back. He has pitched in four minor league games for the Sox and struck out five in five innings.
“He’s starting to throw the ball consistent to where he was a couple of years ago,” Farrell said. “It’s a power arm that’s got some success in the big leagues.”
De La Rosa struck out two in a perfect inning against Houston Aug. 6. In four appearances after that, he allowed six hits with a walk and three hit batters over 4⅔ innings.
In a related transaction, the Red Sox released righthander Jose Contreras from his minor league contract. The 41-year-old appeared in eight games for Pawtucket and did not pitch well. He allowed seven earned runs on nine hits and six walks over 9⅔ innings.
Ross may play
Catcher David Ross was activated off the 60-day disabled list. He had been out since June 15 because of a concussion. Farrell suggested Ross would be in the lineup on Tuesday.
“He’s a guy that has handled our pitchers very well. He adds a lot of energy to our clubhouse and a guy who has got a lot of history in the National League with the teams we’re going to go up against,” Farrell said.
Ross was hitting .185 before he went on the disabled list. He was 1 for 16 in six games during a minor league rehab assignment.
Ryan Lavarnway was dropped down to Pawtucket to make room for Ross on the roster. He hit .288 with six RBIs in 52 at-bats over 16 games (13 starts) filling in for Ross.
Farrell doesn’t believe Ryan Dempster should be suspended for hitting Alex Rodriguez Sunday night, saying again that Dempster was simply pitching inside against the controversial Yankees slugger. Dempster is scheduled to face the Dodgers on Saturday . . . Mike Napoli has been out of the lineup for three consecutive games with a sore left foot. Farrell said the first baseman is responding well to treatment and should return before the end of the Giants series . . . The Red Sox transferred righthanders Clay Buchholz and Andrew Bailey to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Bogaerts and Ross on the 40-man roster. Buchholz has already been out more than 60 days so he is eligible to be activated at any time. Once Buchholz returns, the Red Sox would need to create a spot on the 40-man roster. The Red Sox left Boston shortly after 10 a.m. and arrived in San Francisco at 1:11 p.m. local time. A bus with Farrell, the coaches, and a large group of players went immediately to AT&T Park. The Sox elected to spend Sunday night in Boston rather than fly out after the Yankees game, which would have been around 2 a.m. “You get a late-night start on a Sunday night and the schedule just works that we’re out here. We adjusted to what we felt was best for our guys,” Farrell said. . . . The Giants hosted a fund-raiser for The One Fund as part of the game. Local runners who participated in the Boston Marathon threw out first pitches.