Bobby Dalbec played third base last season for the Portland Sea Dogs, but he says he feels ‘really comfortable’ in making the transition to first base. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

BOSTON — Boston Red Sox prospect Bobby Dalbec is entering spring training with a goal to make the 2020 Opening Day roster.

“Definitely. I just think there’s different ways to go about that goal, I guess,” Dalbec said. “Mine is just to do my thing. Control what I control and not let a bunch of other stuff get in the way.”

Dalbec, who was in Boston this week for the team’s rookie development program, will compete for the starting first base job. Both first baseman Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce are likely gone. Moreland remains a free agent and could re-sign with Boston. Pearce, meanwhile, has “unofficially retired” after playing just 29 games for Boston in 2019 because of injuries.

Baseball America has Dalbec ranked No. 83 on its top-100 list of major league prospects.

The 6-foot-4, 234-pound slugger – who Boston added to the 40-man roster in November – batted .239 with a .356 on-base percentage, .460 slugging percentage, 27 homers, 19 doubles, two triples and 73 RBI while playing 105 games with Double-A Portland and 30 games with Triple-A Pawtucket in 2019. The 24-year-old belted seven homers in 123 plate appearances for Pawtucket.

Dalbec said playing in the major leagues feels attainable.

“It felt attainable when I was here in September,” Dalbec said. “I felt like I belong. But obviously I’ve got a lot to prove. So I’m just going to have fun.”

The Red Sox invited him to Fenway Park for 10 days last September to work out with the team before games.

Dalbec primarily played third base in the minors until the 2019 season, when he split time at first base and third. He also played some first base in the Premium 12 Tournament in Tokyo for Team USA this offseason.

“I feel really comfortable,” Dalbec said about first base. “Just getting consistent work in there every day.”

SHORTSTOP XANDER BOGAERTS will miss Alex Cora in the Red Sox dugout.

“It’s very unfortunate,” said Bogaerts, who was in Boston for the annual baseball writers’ dinner on Thursday. “I know he’s someone that we all enjoyed playing for and loved to just sit and have some nice conversations with him.”

Before Cora’s arrival, Bogaerts was a career .283 hitter with a .748 OPS, never hitting more than 21 homers in a season.

In his two seasons playing for Cora, Bogaerts hit .300 with a .914 OPS, averaging 28 homers per year.

“I think he helped me get to the other level that I was trying to reach,” Bogaerts said. “I’m very thankful for him. … He’s just such a smart baseball guy. When he came over here, he just pushed all of us to heights that we obviously wanted to reach.”

Bogaerts said he’s spent some time with Cora since he lost his job and “it’s just sad.”

He said it’s going to be really strange not having him around anymore. He said the players connected with him.

The next manager doesn’t have to speak Spanish, Bogaerts thinks, because most of the Spanish-speakers in the clubhouse have gotten much better at speaking English.

What is he hoping the next manager will be like?

“Someone like (Cora),” Bogaerts said. “First year, he came in and won. Everything seemed so easy. Last year, we had some rough stretches. We still ended the season over .500. That’s not where we wanted to be, but he did a great job with us. It’s hard managing 25 guys, old guys, keeping them all on the same page. Not letting that clubhouse break apart is something that’s not easy to do.”


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