February 20, 2013

Bogaerts may be worth waiting for

Although he's Boston's top prospect, the Sox figure the World Baseball Classic will enable his growth as an infielder.

The Associated Press

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Boston's top prospect, is chugging away at his first spring training, doing whatever he can to impress staff and teammates.

Xander Bogaerts
click image to enlarge

Xander Bogaerts

The Associated Press

Either way, though, he'll soon be headed out of town.

Bogaerts, 20, a native of Aruba who batted .326 in 23 games with the Portland Sea Dogs last year, will be leaving JetBlue Park to join Team Netherlands as it prepares for the World Baseball Classic. The Netherlands begin competition March 2 against South Korea in Taiwan.

"It's going to be exciting," said Bogaerts, who may find himself back in Portland after the tournament. "Those guys that I've played with growing up, it's going to be fun playing with them again."

The Red Sox figure the WBC is a great place for growth. Next year might be more of a fit in Boston for Bogaerts. And until then, he just wants to play and prepare.

Along the way, if a position switch pops up, he's all for it. And that's a good thing because Team Netherlands would like to pencil him in at third base or designated hitter. Bogaerts, who joined the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in August 2009, is ready, even though he has only played shortstop in his professional career.

"No problem," he said. "Just to be able to play and be in the lineup, that's what's important for me. And to be able to play and help the team win, that's important to me."

Bogaerts guessed the last time he played third was "maybe when I was small in Little League." To prepare for the move, the Red Sox began working him out at third base on Tuesday. He will start at the position Thursday vs. Boston College.

"A typical corner infielder is going to use a one-handed fielding technique, which he naturally went to just moving to third base," Boston Manager John Farrell said.

"He's an infielder and he's got a lot of natural ability and instincts there. But we'll get two days of work days with him and then get him in a game."

 

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