PAWTUCKET, R.I. – On Tuesday afternoon, even Xander Bogaerts acknowledged uncertainty in the face of a very important question: How would he feel when he got back into games, just over two weeks after suffering a broken bone in his left ankle?
In his first of two scheduled rehab games with Triple A Pawtucket, Bogaerts received the answer for which he hoped. He went 2 for 3 with a solo homer to right (a 91-m.p.h. fastball from Toledo lefthander Chad Bell) and a double to right against a cutter from righthanded reliever Victor Alcantara. He also played six innings in the field, slid twice on the bases (once while running into an out at third – an intentionally aggressive play meant to test his ability to accelerate), and felt comfortable over six innings at shortstop.
The performance offered a measure of reassurance to Bogaerts, who acknowledged prior to the game that despite considerable improvement in the ankle since his initial injury, he still felt the residue of the injury when walking and didn’t know how he would feel once in games.
“I was nervous because I haven’t played. It’s been so long for me,” said Bogaerts. “I felt great.”
His timing improved over his three plate appearances. After he flied to right in his first plate appearance while proving tardy on some 94-95-m.p.h. fastballs he fouled off, he squared an 0-1 fastball in his second at-bat and took advantage of a stiff wind to right. In his final plate appearance, he took a pair of fastballs before a hard liner to right on a cutter.
Bogaerts said he felt comfortable in the batter’s box, crediting time spent tracking pitches from teammates Rick Porcello and Eduardo Rodriguez in bullpen sessions as well as time hitting off pitching machines with having maintained his timing. While Bogaerts would like to play one more rehab game with the PawSox on Wednesday, there’s a chance that the contest will be rained out. If that happens, Bogaerts said he felt like he answered enough questions on Tuesday to be ready for a return to the Red Sox lineup at Fenway Park on Friday.
“I really went and tested [the ankle] out to see how it felt,” said Bogaerts. “I think I’m ready.”