Thursday, April 24, 2014
By Kevin Thomas email@example.com
BOSTON — They say he is calm under pressure. And Xander Bogaerts also delivers when the heat is on.
Shane Victorino had the grand slam Saturday night when the Boston Red Sox clinched the American League pennant, but Bogaerts contributed in a big way, reaching all three times he was up and scoring twice.
For the postseason, the rookie who started this year with the Portland Sea Dogs is 3 for 6 with three doubles and four walks.
Against likely Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, Bogaerts worked the count full all three times he batted. He walked in the third, doubled in the fifth and eventually scored Boston’s first run. And he played a part in the seventh-inning rally with another walk.
There was a question before this series if Bogaerts would start a game. He isn’t going to leave the lineup this year, or for years to come.
DANIEL NAVA batted .303 this season and .322 against right-handed pitchers. His .831 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) is third among American League outfielders. Yet he was out of the lineup again, in favor of Jonny Gomes in left field.
“It’s been very difficult because (Nava) is a good hitter and has been an important part of this team,” Manager John Farrell said.
“We have a different feel and a different personality on the field when Jonny is in the lineup. Call it a hunch, call it whatever you might. That’s what it boils down to.”
Gomes’ defense has improved to the point it’s close to Nava’s. Gomes also has shown excellent baserunning instincts and Nava has been caught in mistakes.
“Defense and baserunning are integral and could have a huge impact in the outcome,” Farrell said.
By the way, coming into Saturday’s game, neither Gomes (2 for 9) nor Nava (1 for 9) had a lot of success against Max Scherzer.
BENCH COACH Torey Lovullo’s name has come up as a candidate for the vacant Chicago Cubs managing job.
“To me he’s a manager-in-waiting,” Farrell said. “He’s been integral to the success we’ve had. He’s a great baseball mind.”
WITH THE World Series upon us, the debate over the designated hitter will resume.
Playing a World Series with different rules in different ballparks is unfair and, well, just silly.
The rule will hurt the Red Sox because one of its best hitters will have to sit.
Boston can move David Ortiz to first base, but then would lose Mike Napoli.
In previous years, Boston fared OK in the National League park. The Red Sox won both games at St. Louis in 2004 (with Ortiz replacing Kevin Millar at first), and both games in Colorado in 2007 (Ortiz replacing Kevin Youkilis).
MIKE NAPOLI is one of a handful of free agents on the team. After he originally agreed to a three-year deal, Napoli’s contract was reduced to one year because of health concerns.
But Napoli, 31, played 139 games this year.
“I want to come back,” Napoli said. “Now is not the time to talk about it but I love it here.”
Some other free agents: Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
PRINCE FIELDER headed into Saturday’s game batting 9 for 37 in the playoffs with only one extra-base hit (a double) and no RBI.
“Prince Fielder is not the only guy in the playoffs that’s struggled,” Leyland said. “He’s a high-profile guy so that sticks out a little more.”
Part of that high-profile comes from signing a nine-year, $214 million free-agent contract. And the Tigers may be concerned, with seven years and $168 million left on the deal.
Fielder, 29, heard boos last week at Comerica Park.
“People who can’t do it always have solutions,” Fielder said. “I’m just trying to hit the ball hard, man. That’s all I’m trying to do.”
TRIVIA: St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Michael Wacha became the first rookie to be named the Most Valuable Player of a league championship series since what former Sea Dogs pitcher?
Answer: Livan Hernandez, with the Marlins in 1997.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: