ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Cal Ripken Jr. isn't walking through the door of the Tropicana Field visiting clubhouse and donning a Red Sox uniform.
That breed of iron man doesn't exist anymore.
The Red Sox, however, are just fine with Xander Bogaerts walking through their clubhouse door for the next 10 years or so.
Bogaerts, who has started 74 of Boston's 75 games this season, is dead tired. Manager John Farrell acknowledged as much after Sunday's 6-2 loss in Texas. Bogaerts needs a day off, and it's likely to come Tuesday night vs. the Rays.
After both Bogaerts and Farrell acknowledged rest was in order, Bogaerts was surprisingly in the lineup Monday night even after the Red Sox had recalled Mike Miller from Pawtucket. The feeling was Marco Hernandez would play shortstop for a game to get Bogaerts off his feet, especially on the Tropicana Field turf, which Bogaerts acknowledged isn't great on the legs. But Farrell said the day off would come in the second game of the series.
When he saw he was in the lineup Bogaerts just shrugged and said, "That's fine. I want to play. We have a day off coming up [Thursday], so if that's it, that's fine."
Bogaerts may be 23, but he conceded Sunday, "I'm only human." He said his legs are tired and it's affecting him in the field and at the plate. He needs a day to refresh. It doesn't help that he had to play in the intense heat of Texas's Globe Life Stadium.
Most players would not admit to what Bogaerts did. They have this macho thing going, and they often talk about wanting to play every day and never asking for time off. But Bogaerts is just being honest when he says, "I just have to go through it. You have to tough it out. It's not easy, trust me, it's not easy.
"I know I'm tired. I can feel I'm tired. I don't have no legs. I'm throwing the ball over there with no legs. I'm hitting with nothing right now. Most of my hits have been infield hits and bloopers, stuff like that. It's not solid contact lately."
"He's tired," Farrell said. "He needs a day. No other way to put it. He's been going pretty much every game and we need to find him a day to get off his feet."
Bogaerts added, "Once in a while, it would be nice to [have] one day off."
One of the problems has been Boston's depleted roster. Brock Holt, who would normally spell Bogaerts, is still coming back from a concussion and playing in Pawtucket, but if he's playing in Pawtucket, why can't he play for Boston?
The Red Sox still believe that Holt is having concussion symptoms and, as long as he does, he won't be up. The Red Sox are likely looking at Holt rejoining the team when it returns home Friday.
Last week, the Red Sox brought up Deven Marrero, a terrific defensive shortstop, but he played third base and wasn't utilized at shortstop to give Bogaerts a rest. The Sox haven't wanted to use Hernandez there either. Hanley Ramirez has volunteered to play shortstop any time the Red Sox need him to, but Farrell hasn't taken him up on that offer yet and probably won't.
The Sox have an off day Thursday, and Bogaerts is looking forward to that if he doesn't get relief in the Tampa Bay series.
"That'll be huge," he said. "I know we had those two days off in San Francisco. I came back and was doing great.
"It just wears on you, especially in this hot sun that was here, man. It was probably the hottest weather I played in."
You can see why Farrell wants to play Bogaerts a lot. He is second in the AL in batting with a .344 average and will be the starting shortstop in the All-Star Game. But he has made three errors in his last four games, as the wear and tear is starting to catch up to him.
In no way does Bogaerts want to be considered a guy lacking fortitude. In fact, he says he loves to play every day. But the fatigue is something he can't hide. It shows up.
He sat relaxing watching the England-Iceland soccer match before Monday's game. Normally he'd be taking batting practice in the cage. Sometimes he likes to kick a soccer ball around the outfield. But not on this day.
He was all about resting so he could resume being the best shortstop in baseball.