October 11, 2013

Red Sox excited over Xander Bogaerts’ calm

He just turned 21 and has excelled in two post-season games before his first official at-bat.

By Jimmy Golen
The Associated Press

BOSTON — To Red Sox teammate Jonny Gomes, it doesn’t matter that Xander Bogaerts just turned 21 and had never appeared in a postseason game before this week.

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Boston Red Sox’s Xander Bogaerts (72) trades high-fives with teammates in the dugout after he scored in the seventh inning on a wild pitch by Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Joel Peralta in Game 4 of the division series Tuesday in St. Petersburg, Fla. “He’s very mature,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said of his teammate.

The Associated Press

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Boston Red Sox baseball players gather around the batting cage during a workout at Fenway Park in Boston on Thursday in preparation for Game 1 of the AL championship series against Detroit on Saturday.

The Associated Press

“When you’re between the lines, it hides your age,” Gomes said. “It hides your draft status. It hides your contract.”

Bogaerts walked twice and scored two runs in the Game 4 clincher against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, one night after he entered as a pinch-runner and scored the tying run. In all, he has appeared two postseason games, scoring three runs with a perfect on-base percentage: 1.000.

All before his first official at-bat.

“I just went up there and tried to get on base,” said Bogaerts, who turned 21 on Oct. 1. “For me, I wanted to reach on base. I didn’t want to hit a homer.”

Next up, Bogaerts and the Red Sox will play Detroit in the AL championship series after the Tigers advanced Thursday night with a 3-0 victory at Oakland in their decisive Game 5.

Boston went 3-4 against Detroit this season. The teams have never met in the playoffs.

A highly touted prospect who was called up in August, Bogaerts is a big reason the Red Sox were willing to part with slick-fielding rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias in the trade that brought right-hander Jake Peavy to Boston. Bogaerts had 11 hits in 44 regular-season at-bats, but he also walked five times and scored seven runs.

And it was in Game 4 against the Rays that he showed he was ready.

Bogaerts pinch-hit for Stephen Drew in the seventh inning and laid off a 3-2 pitch to draw a walk. He went to third on a single and scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. He walked again in the ninth – again on a full count – took second on a wild pitch, went to third when Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly.

“You put it together and you say, ‘Those little things, they all contribute just as big as a solo home run,’ ” said outfielder Shane Victorino, who did his part by taking two pitches off his body Tuesday night, the third and fourth times he was hit by a pitch in the four-game series.

Red Sox manager John Farrell was impressed with the way Bogaerts came off the bench to draw a walk and didn’t get impatient.

“He’s very mature,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “He seems calm; he’s controlling the at-bat. Those are things that normally take a long time. It’s pretty rare. There would be a lot of 21-year-olds doing it if they could.”

The Red Sox worked out Thursday at Fenway Park on the second of three off days before the start of the best-of-seven ALCS. They will open at home Saturday against Detroit.

Farrell said he didn’t expect any changes from the division series roster that included 14 hitters and 11 pitchers. Left-hander Felix Doubront, a starter in the regular season who did not pitch in the previous round, will again be available in long relief.

Farrell said there were no injuries in the ALDS that would lead him to change the roster. None of the pitchers was overtaxed in the four-game series, especially with three days off to rest for the next round.

The Red Sox manager stayed away from rooting for the Athletics or Tigers, saying “either team that we’re going to play is going to be another steep challenge.” But that doesn’t mean it made no difference.

The closest Farrell would come to expressing a preference between Oakland and Detroit was to note that one is kind of far away.

“(There’s) 4½ hours less travel time for one,” he said.

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