As Jackie Bradley Jr. tries to rebuild his swing at Triple A Pawtucket, Xander Bogaerts is hitting .224 and is hitless in his last 19 at-bats. But general manager Ben Cherington asserted that the 21-year-old shortstop is not going anywhere.
“In our minds this is where he needs to be. We want him to be at shortstop for the rest of this season and allow him to work through what he’s working through,” Cherington said.
“Every player has different circumstances. This is where Xander needs to be right now.”
Bogaerts played only shortstop in spring training and for the first two months of the season. He was then shifted to third base following the team’s ill-fated decision to sign Stephen Drew. Bogaerts then returned to shortstop on Aug. 1 following the trade of Drew to the Yankees.
Manager John Farrell has dismissed the idea that those changes affected Bogaerts at the plate. But Cherington isn’t quite as certain of that.
“I don’t know if that has contributed to it,” he said. “I’d just be speculating. All I know is that there have been challenges for him offensively. We know that he’s going to be a really good offensive player and we’re trying to help him towards that.”
Finally deciding what position Bogaerts will play might be helpful.
“Certainly we want to commit to a position,” Cherington said. “Perhaps there’s more questions externally about what his position was than we were asking internally. We never felt like he couldn’t play shortstop . . . There’s certainly a feeling within the organization that he can play shortstop.”
Since June 5, Bogaerts is hitting .149 with 10 walks and 60 strikeouts in 238 plate appearances.
“It’s not uncommon for a really talented young player like Xander to go through struggles. Frankly we did not expect him to go through struggles to this extent because we’ve seen him be so good including at the major league level,” Cherington said.
“But sure enough it’s happened. He’s battling through that and we’re trying to help him in any way we can. It hasn’t changed at all what we think of him and what we feel he’s going to be.”
Third baseman Will Middlebrooks left the game in the fourth inning with what the team said was “tightness” in his right hamstring after reaching on an infield hit.
“Don’t know the extent of it. Certainly he’s day to day at this point,” Farrell said.
Middlebrooks was on the DL earlier this season with a right calf strain and then with a fractured right index finger. He was on the disabled list in 2013 with a lower back injury and in 2012 with a fractured right wrist.
Kelly Johnson replaced Middlebrooks and was 0 for 2. He is 2 for 15 with the Sox.
Confidence in Bradley
Cherington said the organization has not lost faith in Bradley, who was hitting .216 when he was demoted and replaced by Mookie Betts.
“With Jackie, I think we’ve gone through several phases to the year. It looked like before the All-Star break there were some things that were starting to take hold and some momentum. We hoped and expected that might continue,” Cherington said.
“After the All-Star break he started to struggle again and I think as we got past the [trade] deadline and the direction of the team changed, we started to think about how do we give him the best chance to build some momentum going into the offseason knowing he’s a real important guy for us going forward.”
Cherington said Bradley would return “at some point” in September. The goal is for him to come up with a pregame routine and approach that best suits him.
Waiting on Castillo
Cherington acknowledged the Red Sox are one of the teams in contention for free agent Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo. The Tigers, Giants, Cubs, and Phillies also have been linked to Castillo. “There’s obviously been attention on this. He’s a player that we’ve seen and have talked to, but we’re just one of several teams that have done that,” Cherington said. “There’s nothing more I can say than that.” Within the industry, the expectation is that Castillo will announce a decision by the weekend . . . Farrell said the Red Sox would activate catcher David Ross off the disabled list on Wednesday. He has been out since Aug. 2 with plantar fasciitis in his right foot . . . Ross went through an extensive pregame workout that included running the bases. Ross was essentially splitting the catching duties with Christian Vazquez before his injury. Farrell said Vazquez would continue to get the bulk of the starts until Ross gets settled in. Rookie catcher Dan Butler was optioned to Pawtucket after the game to clear a spot on the roster for Ross . . . Allen Craig was 0 for 2 with a walk as the designated hitter for Triple A Pawtucket on Monday. He was back at Fenway Park on Tuesday and took batting practice. Craig is scheduled to play right field for Pawtucket on Wednesday . . . Angels infielder John McDonald, who played six games for the Red Sox last season, said he will consider retirement after the season. McDonald, who turns 40 in September, has played parts of 16 seasons with eight teams. The Connecticut native and Scituate resident will be in demand for a position as a coach or within the front office . . . The Angels have won six of seven . . . Outfielder Corey Brown, who was designated for assignment last week, cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Pawtucket . . . Brock Holt, 0 for 3 with a sacrifice fly and a sacrifice bunt, had a 12-game hit streak snapped.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.