Red Sox rookie Xander Bogaerts was on the field at Fenway Park nearly five hours before Thursday night’s game against the Orioles.
Infield coach Brian Butterfield put Bogaerts through a long workout at third base, hitting him ground balls from different angles. Manager John Farrell came out of the clubhouse to watch.
In his first six games, Bogaerts has played 14⅔ innings at shortstop and 13⅓ innings at third base.
That is partially by design. Bogaerts was called up Aug. 19 to give the club a better bench for the pennant race. But his presence also gives the major league coaching staff an opportunity to assess where Bogaerts will best fit in the lineup next season and beyond.
Bogaerts was signed as a shortstop out of Aruba in 2009 and with the exception of 10 games, has played only that position in the minor leagues. But the 20-year-old is 6 feet 3 inches and weighs more than 200 pounds. He has the frame, athletic ability, and power to play third base or a corner outfield spot.
Some scouts believe Bogaerts could get too big and lose some of the agility required to play shortstop. Even his agent, Scott Boras, has mentioned that.
“I’ve heard that for a few years. But I feel like I’m a shortstop and I’ve shown that,” Bogaerts said. “With my role now, I might play some games at third base. I’m just trying to get ready.”
The trade of Jose Iglesias eased some of the organization’s logjam at shortstop and Bogaerts has a clear path to the position unless Stephen Drew is retained.
“I think Xander’s going to tell us more than anyone just taking a quick look at him and say where his best position is on the field,” Farrell said. “He’s most comfortable at shortstop.
“He’s 20 years old [and] he’s got a big frame. He’s certainly going to be a big person when he reaches his maturity in another five years. To rush to a judgment . . . he’ll determine by his play where he’s best suited at.”
Because Bogaerts was away for the World Baseball Classic for nearly a month of spring training, this is the first chance the major league coaching staff has had to work with him extensively.
“This environment and these games are much different than spring training,” Farrell said. “To see that same temperament, to see the same ease in which he goes about things, the genuine confidence that’s there. We might be more anxious for him than he is for himself in this setting just because of limited experience. He’s a pretty special person.”
Buchholz on mound
Clay Buchholz is scheduled to throw 45-50 pitches for Triple A Pawtucket against Syracuse on Friday night at McCoy Stadium. It would be his second minor league rehabilitation start.
Farrell said Buchholz would make another start in the minors next week before returning to the Sox. He has been out since June 9 with a shoulder injury.
If Buchholz makes his third start next Wednesday, he could start for Boston at Tampa Bay Sept. 10.
The Sox have until midnight Saturday to obtain a player who would be eligible for the postseason roster. The biggest area of need is a righthanded reliever who could get an out or two in the eighth inning.
“If there are ways we can improve, I know that those steps will be taken,” Farrell said.
At the moment, the Sox have Junichi Tazawa and rookie Brandon Workman as righthanded setup men. Lefty Craig Breslow also handles righthanders well.
When rosters expand Sunday, the Sox will add some pitchers. But none would be worthy of a high-leverage situation.
“If there’s someone out there that makes sense for us to acquire, we might see that,” Farrell said.
Or there’s Ryan Dempster, who returns to the rotation on Friday.
Once Buchholz is activated off the disabled list, Dempster would be the logical choice to go to the bullpen. He has 225 games of relief experience, although none since 2007.
Dempster will be pitching for the first time since Aug. 18, the night he hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch. Dempster (6-9 with a 4.77 ERA) was suspended for five games and then pushed further back by the Red Sox.
“He’s rested, I know that. He’ll be ready to go,” Farrell said. “I don’t see this period of time which he hasn’t gotten on the mound as a huge obstacle for him. He knows his routine and how to prepare.”
Setback for Bard
Daniel Bard could not get through an inning in the Gulf Coast League. He walked five of the six teenage batters he faced, threw two wild pitches, and allowed four stolen bases in a game against the Rays at Port Charlotte, Fla.
Bard has pitched twice in the Rookie League and the control issues he had in April and May worsened. His velocity also is down from that point.
Bard remains on the 40-man roster. The Sox will need to create room on the 40-man to add Quintin Berry next week and when they activate Buchholz.
The Red Sox took their annual team photograph in front of the Green Monster before the game. Injured pitcher Andrew Miller made his way across the field on crutches to participate . . . Jacoby Ellsbury was 2 for 4 with his 50th steal a night after leaving the game in the eighth inning after fouling a ball off his left foot. Ellsbury is the first Red Sox player to have three seasons with 50 steals . . . Mike Carp was a late scratch from the lineup because of a sore left shoulder . . . Daniel Nava has reached base safely in 35 consecutive starts since June 22, the longest such active streak in the majors . . . Righthanded reliever Alex Wilson, out since July 9 with a thumb injury, is set to pitch an inning for Pawtucket on Friday. If healthy, he would be a candidate to rejoin the Red Sox . . . Jonny Gomes carried a cricket bat out for batting practice. “My new toy,” he said . . . Richard Donohue, the MBTA police officer shot and gravely injured while pursuing the alleged Boston Marathon bombing suspects, threw out the first pitch to a loud ovation.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.