Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts continuing to learn
The Red Sox have played 25 games since Xander Bogaerts was promoted from Triple A Pawtucket Aug. 19. Sunday night’s 9-2 victory over the Yankees was only the ninth he has started.
While it may seem unusual for a team to promote a 20-year-old prospect to have a role off the bench, it served two purposes. The addition of Bogaerts to the roster immediately made the Red Sox a better team and it furthers his development in preparation for a bigger role next season.
“It has been a great experience for me,” Bogaerts said. “The opportunity to be around this team means a lot to me. I’m learning things every day.”
The Red Sox are comfortable with Stephen Drew at shortstop given his consistency and they need the righthanded power Will Middlebrooks provides from third base. Bogaerts was viewed as a better alternative for the bench than a fringe prospect. Bogaerts is hitting .303 with an .816 OPS and four RBIs in 13 games and 33 plate appearances overall. He has started five games at shortstop and Sunday was his fourth start at third base.
“He’s blended in well. He’s been all eyes and ears. He asks great questions,” manager John Farrell said. “This has been invaluable, the time that he has been here so far. He’s got a bright future.”
Bogaerts has done a lot of pregame work with the coaches on his defensive footwork and throwing. He has played shortstop throughout his career outside of a handful of games at third base this season.
“[On Saturday] he made a number of plays at shortstop that he made look very easy,” Farrell said. “Groundball that had a potential to lead to a run, he fields far to his glove side. Wasn’t an easy play. One [was a] two-hopper that he seemingly changed direction on with the throw. He’s a very graceful defender.
“Right now he looks more comfortable at short than he does at third because of the number of games played there.”
Said Bogaerts: “I’ll play wherever they need me to play. I understand the situation and what they need me to do.”
It is uncertain where Bogaerts will fit in next season. Drew will be a free agent after the season, so he could play shortstop. Or the Red Sox could try him at another position. Regardless, this time in the majors will help prepare Bogaerts for next season.
“His willingness to learn; willingness to listen. He’s a smart kid. He’s very respectful,” Farrell said. “He doesn’t come across as a know-it-all. His comment of wanting to be great, that’s what you hope every young player aspires to.”
The only thing Bogaerts wishes is that he could grow a beard like some of his older teammates.
“They kid me about that all the time,” he said. “It wouldn’t look too good on me.”
Jacoby Ellsbury missed his ninth game with a fracture in his right foot.
He is at Fenway Park and working out but has not been made available to the media since Sept. 5, the day before the injury was diagnosed.
“More of the same, continues physical activities with the foot,” said Farrell, who declined to say when Ellsbury would start baseball-type activities.
The Sox and agent Scott Boras have said they expect Ellsbury to return before the end of the season.
Shane Victorino, who has been dealing with a sore left hamstring for months, was out of the lineup. The Red Sox also were without Middlebrooks, who has flu-like symptoms.
“We’ve got a number of guys who are dealing with some minor things that they’re banged up with,” Farrell said. “[Monday] being an off day, we may take a look at some things Tuesday and beyond to get some guys off their feet.”
The Red Sox will bring a few of their top pitching prospects to the majors this week. But they won’t be in uniform.
As part of the team’s development program, Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur will join the coaching staff and work with the players on off-field skills.
The Red Sox didn’t say who those players are. But former first-round draft picks Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo are good bets for the pilot program.
“It’s something other teams have done,” general manager Ben Cherington said. “It’s a chance to get them here and to see how certain things are accomplished.”
Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina also will join the staff later this month.
On the way
Farrell said several Pawtucket players would be added to the roster Tuesday . . . Lefthanded reliever Matt Thornton celebrated his 37th birthday . . . Northeastern student Victoria McGrath, one of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, walked out to the mound and threw out the first pitch. She received a big ovation from the crowd.