FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts, for the first time that he could remember, played a different position Tuesday.
The shortstop shifted over to third base and took some ground balls in preparation for the World Baseball Classic. Bogaerts, who is from Aruba, will play for the Netherlands.
“I’m not worried about it. It’s just something new,” Bogaerts said. “It should be a good experience, the whole thing.”
Bogaerts looked comfortable at third base. Other than the ball getting on him faster, many of the angles are the same as shortstop.
“He’s an infielder,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “You know what? He’s got a lot of natural ability and instincts there. We’ll get two days of workdays with him and then get him in a game.”
Bogaerts will start at third base against Boston College Thursday in the second game of a doubleheader.
The Red Sox have no plans to move the 20-year-old Bogaerts from shortstop. But the Dutch team has Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons and conferred with the Red Sox about using Bogaerts at third base or as the DH.
“It’s been clearly outlined,” Farrell said.
Bogaerts leaves the Sox next week to join the Dutch team in Arizona for a brief mini-camp before traveling to Taiwan for the first round of the tournament.
Pitchers lined up
The Red Sox will start John Lackey against the Rays in Saturday’s Grapefruit League opener at JetBlue Park. He will go an inning before Drake Britton, Pedro Beato, Anthony Carter, Jose De La Torre, Oscar Villareal, Alex Wilson, and Steven Wright follow.
Jon Lester starts Sunday against the Cardinals across the state in Jupiter. If he pitches every five days, that would give Lester seven starts this spring and put him on turn to face the Yankees on Opening Day April 1. Farrell has not announced his starter for that game yet. But Lester has started the last two openers.
The Sox have a split-squad doubleheader Monday. Wright will start against the Blue Jays in Dunedin. Alfredo Aceves faces Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte.
Napoli takes steps
For the second straight day, Mike Napoli stepped up his work at first base.
He took infield with the other regulars, then spent extra time after the workout with coach Brian Butterfield and first baseman Lyle Overbay on his footwork around the bag.
Farrell watched from across the field. The Sox are pleased with how quickly Napoli is progressing, given that they held him back a few days to assess the condition of his hips.
Napoli is not scheduled to play in the first few exhibition games. But he could get into a game later next week.
“I don’t have a date yet,” Farrell said. “Napoli is making very good progress, so I can’t imagine and foresee at this point it would be too far into the game schedule before he will be on the field.”
Ortiz not there yet
As Napoli takes leaps, David Ortiz is moving at a slower pace with his Achilles’ tendon injury. He is still on a rehab program, doing agility work off to the side before taking batting practice.
Ortiz has yet to run the bases, which will be one of the final tests before he is cleared to play.
“He’s not there yet,” Farrell said. “The most important thing is we continue on an incline all the way to the start of the season.”
Typically, a starting player would receive 40-60 at-bats in spring training.
“I know his gut feeling,” said Farrell. “He’s very confident that he’ll be ready to go on Opening Day.”
Wake on the way
Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek aren’t the only decorated former players who will be helping out the team. Tim Wakefield is set to be in Dunedin Monday to see Wright throw his knuckleball and get a feel for the righthander’s approach. Wakefield retired after the 2011 season but stayed involved with the team through the Red Sox Foundation and appearances on NESN. Now he will contribute with some informal coaching of Wright. “He’s got every intention to see that game up there and then be [in Fort Myers] the remainder of the week,” Farrell said . . . The Red Sox plan to use Rubby De La Rosa for two-inning stints throughout spring training. He pitched only 13⅔ innings last season after recovering from Tommy John surgery and has never thrown more than 110⅓ innings in a season. “Rubby’s aware of it,” said Farrell. “He’s understanding of our thought with that.” The Sox are still discussing how many innings they will restrict De La Rosa to this season. The righthander turns 24 in March.