When Xander Bogaerts learned Friday that he was just one hit shy of 1,400, a feat that would make him just the fourth Red Sox player to reach that mark before turning 30, the shortstop began doing some mental math.
“So that means I have about two weeks to get it,” said a smiling Bogaerts before his team’s 2-1 win over the Royals Friday.
Bogaerts turns 30 on Oct. 1.
The three other players to do it before turning 30 are Hall of Famers Carl Yastrzemski, Bobby Doerr, and Jim Rice.
Bogaerts, who went 0 for 4 on Friday, is on the precipice of joining them.
“This is the fun part about this,” manager Alex Cora said before the game. “Every week we get to talk about something great about him. We can talk about the way he goes about it, the hustle and all that, but in the end, he’s just a very humble kid that loves to play baseball. He shows up every single day.”
Bogaerts is also chasing the American League batting title, entering the day with a .317 average, trailing just Luis Arraez (.320 before Friday). Bogaerts ranks first in the league among shortstops in FanGraphs WAR (6.1), and is third among all American League players. Only the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (9.8) and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani (8.2) have a higher WAR.
“He loves to play,” Cora said. “He hates offdays and he hates struggling. For him to be one hit away from that milestone, that’s just who he is.”
Hernández, Sox honor Clemente
Cora walked into his pregame presser sporting a charcoal gray and yellow Roberto Clemente shirt. Kiké Hernández sported multi-colored — mainly yellow — cleats for Friday’s contest that included a portrait of Clemente, the Puerto Rican flag, and some of his accolades such as 3,000 hits, 15 All-Star appearances, his MVP Award, and 12 Gold Glove honors.
The cleats, designed by Stadium Custom Kicks, even paid tribute to Cangrejeros de Santurce, Clemente’s winter league team in Puerto Rico, where the Hall of Famer began his professional career at 18 years old. Thursday marked Roberto Clemente Day across Major League Baseball. The Sox had an offday, so the celebration for some of the Sox staff and players, like Cora and Hernández, who are both from Puerto Rico, had to wait an additional day. Cora, Hernández, and some other Sox staff members wore Clemente’s No. 21 for Friday’s game.
“More than the cleats, wearing the No. 21 means even more,” Hernández said. “It’s a special day even though we had an offday yesterday. The No. 21 doesn’t lose meaning. He’s a Hall of Famer on the field, but even better off the field. It speaks volumes to who he was as a person and not just to help others, but he was also a humanitarian and he fought a lot of battles to end racism.”
In terms of living up to Clemente’s humanitarian efforts in Puerto Rico, Cora said they have fallen short and need to do a better job of keeping Clemente’s name alive.
“I do believe that what he really wanted is to impact the youth of Puerto Rico,” Cora said. “When I was growing up we had the Roberto Clemente Sports Complex. We used to go there and now you go there and there’s nothing. Shame on us, you know, that we haven’t been able to live up to that.”
Crawford rehab stalled
Trevor Story (left heel) was out again Friday. The Sox hope he can play Saturday or Sunday . . . Nate Eovaldi (right shoulder inflammation) will throw a three inning simulated game Sunday morning at Fenway . . . Kutter Crawford (right shoulder impingement) is not progressing the way the Sox hoped. There’s a strong chance his season is over . . . The Red Sox celebrated Hispanic Heritage month with Dia De Los Media Rojas in recognition of Mexican Independence Day . . . Major League Baseball announced the Arizona Fall League rosters Friday. Eight Red Sox prospects will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions: righthanders Aaron Perry, Thaddeus Ward, Jacob Webb, and Ryan Zeferjahn, catcher Stephen Scott, infielders Niko Kavadas, Nick Yorke, and outfielder Wilyer Abreu. Cora said that top outfield/infield prospect Ceddane Rafaela will play in winter ball in Puerto Rico for Criollos de Caguas, managed by Sox first base coach Ramón Vázquez. Rafaela has had a breakout season in the minors, entering Friday batting .303/.346/.547 with 21 homers between High A Salem and Double A Portland.