Xander Bogaerts is looking to put and up-and-down 2014 season behind him, one that saw him switch between shortstop and third base several times. So far this spring, he has done just that.
The 22-year old infielder got the Red Sox on the board with a run-scoring base hit in the third inning of Thursday’s contest, and followed that up in the fifth when he took an offering from New York Mets’ Hansel Robles, and deposited it over the left field fence for a three-run homer, his second long ball of the spring.
“The only breaking ball he saw in the whole sequence was a hanging breaking ball he put a great swing on,” Sox’ manager John Farrell said of Bogaerts’ home run per MLB.com. “He recognized it. I think equal to that, there’s so many at-bats where he’s staying back and hitting some balls the other way. He had a long fly ball (Saturday) to move a runner, and today an RBI single the other way when he was down in the count. He looks balanced and he’s waiting for pitches to get to him.”
Bogaerts slammed his first home run of the spring on Thursday, when he launched a two-run home run to straight away center field against the Minnesota Twins.
“I wasn’t even looking for a home run,” said Bogaerts to Ian Browne of MLB.com, “I was pretty surprised the way I saw the ball today, after the last time we played the college [team on Tuesday]. It’s just the first game. Just try to be consistent and stay within yourself. I was kind of thinking that way, but I wasn’t thinking home run, for sure. It worked out good.”
After making his major league debut in August 2013, and then hitting .296/.412/.481 in 12 postseason games for the eventual World Series champs, expectations were extremely high for Bogaerts heading into 2014. He failed to live up to those expectations, however, owning a .240/.297/.362 slash line with just 12 home runs and 46 RBI in his first full major league season.
Many believe his lackluster season was due to the multiple position changes he endured during the course of the season, moving from shortstop to third base after the signing of Stephen Drew, and then back to shortstop after Drew was traded to the Yankees at the July 31 deadline.
Even with the acquisition of shortstop Hanley Ramirez during the off-season, Boston has made it abundantly clear that he will play left field, and that Bogaerts is their shortstop for 2015. That consistency on the defensive side of the ball should allow Bogaerts to focus more on his approach at the plate, which has already seemed to pay dividends this spring.
Forrest Mulheron is a Boston Red Sox/MLB Correspondent for Baseball Essential
This negative outlook on Bogaerts season last year is not very responsible given that pitching was the best it has been since the early 1970’s. There are too many bloggers/ journalists excluding these factors when evaluating the large crop of very talented rookies that came up last season. Considering that pitching was the best it has been in over 40 years I think Bogaerts had a decent season. These numbers are only going to improve over time and we really won’t know for sure who he will be until he gets AT LEAST 1,000 more at bats.