Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts, shown during a game last July, has been sidelined by an ankle injury throughout spring training. “It’s just frustrating not being able to do much now,” he says. Associated Press/Charles Krupa

FORT MYERS, Fla. – Xander Bogaerts has been dealing with a lot of frustration.

For starters, Bogaerts hasn’t been able to get into a spring training game yet. It’s March, and the Boston Red Sox will break camp in just three weeks. Bogaerts, who arrived raring to go a month ago, has been slowed by a sore ankle that started bothering him during his final offseason workouts.

The shortstop expects to start playing games soon. He’s not worried about running out of time to get ready for the season. At least, not yet.

“I think it will be a good time to work on that. I think we have enough time.”

The ankle is a different frustration for the Red Sox, who arrived in camp last month dealing with the loss of Mookie Betts via a trade to the Dodgers. The team has moved on as players have immersed themselves in preparation. Yet Bogaerts, who continues to emerge as a team leader, worries about what the loss of a superstar could mean to the remaining players.

“I just think we traded away Mookie and that might put some pressure on us to go out and do more,” said Bogaerts, “and I think we have to be careful with that, you know? We just don’t want to be putting pressure on ourselves and getting in a big hole just because you want to fill someone’s shoes like Mookie.


“Mookie’s one of the best players in the game. Don’t try to go out and do that. Just let the game come to you, play the game the way you know. Just do the stuff that you know. Don’t try to go out there and hit three homers in a game.”

Bogaerts said it isn’t easy losing one of the game’s biggest impact bats, saying Betts could change a game with “one swing, one defensive play.”

Steve Lyons, the NESN analyst who spent nine years in the big leagues, pointed out that Bogaerts can do the same thing.

“Yeah,” laughed Bogaerts, “but two would be better than one.”

The Red Sox certainly have other big hitters. Like Bogaerts, J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers are coming off tremendous seasons at the plate.

“We obviously have a lot of talented guys and I know we can make it work,” said Bogaerts. “It’s just frustrating not being able to do much now.”

Better now than next month, when the Red Sox will need Bogaerts and the rest of the lineup to be at its best if it hopes to overcome the loss of Betts. A year ago the Sox set a team record for home runs. It’s unlikely this lineup will top that mark, but it should have enough to succeed.

That lineup needs Bogaerts at the center of it. Getting on the field would be his next step towards returning to his role as run producer and team leader. It’s a role Boston will lean on more than ever in 2020.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs Tuesdays in the Press Herald.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.