FORT MYERS, Fla. — The biggest mystery this spring for the Red Sox has been Xander Bogaerts.
The season starts in fewer than 25 days, and the shortstop still hasn’t seen any game action and has been limited in what he can accomplish on the field.
Bogaerts, who has been dealing with left ankle soreness since the start of camp, was asked if it is frustrating.
“It is,” he said Monday morning. “Especially [because] the days are close. You’re kind of wondering, ‘Hey are you going to get in [games] in time?’”
Said manager Ron Roenicke, “It’s taking a little bit longer. I don’t think it’s a concern yet. But we go another week and he’s not out there doing stuff and, yeah, we’ll start to get a little concerned.”
Bogaerts hopes to get in games this week, but if he isn’t available to start the season, Roenicke said they will go with Jose Peraza at shortstop. Peraza is projected to be the starting second baseman, but he played 39 games at shortstop last season and takes pride in being versatile.
Bogaerts’s progression has been slow, but he recently ramped up his activity, taking grounders and batting practice. He hasn’t had any setbacks, he said. It’s just a matter of getting acclimated to moving around more.
“I’ve started doing baseball activities, so sometimes I get sore in other areas because I haven’t been swinging, taking grounders, stuff like that,” Bogaerts said. “I think it’s all coming along well.”
Bogaerts took live batting practice just once this spring, against Eduardo Rodriguez, but remains confident he will be ready for Opening Day.
“My swing and all is not midseason form,” he said. “I think it will be a good time to work on that. I think we have enough time.”
The Sox will need Bogaerts’s presence in the clubhouse and on the field more than ever. There are questions surrounding the rotation. Newly acquired outfielder Alex Verdugo will start the season on the injured list with a stress fracture in his back. Unprompted, Bogaerts said Monday it will be different without Mookie Betts around.
“Knowing that we traded away Mookie, that might put some pressure on us to go out and do more,” he said. “I think we should be a little careful with that. We just don’t want to put pressure on ourselves and get in a big hole just because we want to fill someone’s shoes like Mookie’s. Mookie is one of the best players in the game.”
The clock is ticking for Bogaerts.
“I would like 10 days more this spring if it was for me, just because of the way I’m rolling right now,” he said. “I think I have enough time. I can at least track in the cages some off-speed. Just the fastball now is something that I might need to see a little more in game time. I’m looking forward to that.”