Rafael Devers and Xander Bogaerts arguably make up the best left side of any infield in the American League. Last year, the pair combined to hit 65 home runs and 106 doubles, becoming the first teammates to ever collect 30 long balls and 50 two-baggers in the same season.
On the field, the two Caribbean stars are as dominant as ever and may just be the best two players on the Red Sox now that Mookie Betts is in Los Angeles. Off the field, though, the two share a special bond, and that’s mostly thanks to Bogaerts.
In a story from ESPN’s Joon Lee highlighting Bogaerts’ sense of leadership amid a worldwide pandemic, several players spoke highly of what the 27-year-old has meant for them. The players interviewed by Lee were mostly of the younger variety who have made their major-league debuts within the last three years, such as Michael Chavis, Darwinzon Hernandez, and of course, Devers.
In talking with Lee, the 23-year-old Devers credits Bogaerts for “helping him break out as a full-fledged star in 2019” while also acknowledging the fact that Bogaerts speaks multiple languages — English, Spanish, Dutch and Papiamento — and how that is a very helpful attribute to have in a diverse clubhouse.
“Out of everyone, he’s probably the best person I’ve ever met in my life,” Devers said of his Summer Camp suite-mate. “So the fact that he’s always so happy and the fact that he does speak different languages helps bring everyone together.”
Having a mentor like Bogaerts, who has seemingly risen to the role even more since signing a six-year, $120 million extension with Boston last spring, should be something all major-league clubs strive for.
Bogaerts experienced the growing pains a big-leaguer endures as a rookie back in 2013, and he calls back to the help he received from the veterans on that year’s Red Sox team, such as David Ortiz, David Ross, Mike Napoli, and Dustin Pedroia, while passing down wisdom to his peers now.
“I remember I was scared. I was a little nervous, actually not a little nervous,” said Bogaerts of his rookie year, when he was just 20 years old. “I was really nervous because I don’t really want to mess up with all these big boys, and I wasn’t used to a situation like that, but it all worked out great, man. It all worked out great. I learned a lot from them.”
As it turns out, it would appear that Bogaerts did learn a lot from those guys on the 2013 team. And as he and the Red Sox prepare to embark on what’s sure to be a bizarre 60-game season, that knowledge gained seven years ago will likely come in handy over the next few months.