Xander Bogaerts at 1,000: Red Sox shortstop becomes 30th player in franchise history to play 1,000 games with Boston

Xander Bogaerts reached a historic milestone on Thursday by playing in his 1,000th career major-league game, all of which have come with the Red Sox.

The star shortstop became the 30th player in franchise history to appear in 1,000 games in a Red Sox uniform, but just the 10th do so before turning 29 years old. He joins the likes of Bobby Doerr, Dwight Evans, Harry Hooper, Rico Petrocelli, Jim Rice, George Scott, Reggie Smith, Tris Speaker and Carl Yastrzemski in accomplishing that feat.

Facing off against the Tigers at Fenway Park, Bogaerts went 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk, an RBI, and a run scored as part of a wild 12-9 win over Detroit. He is now slashing a gaudy .356/.402/.593 on the season to go along with six home runs and 18 runs driven in.

With Thursday’s performance in his back pocket, the 28-year-old has now collected 1,125 hits for the Sox since making his big-league debut in August 2013. That currently ranks 23rd in team history.

Originally signed out of Aruba as a skinny 16-year-old back in 2009, Bogaerts has come a long way in his 11 years as a member of the Red Sox organization.

“It definitely means a lot,” Bogaerts said when asked what it meant to play his 1,000th game with the Red Sox. “I know I came a long way since the day I signed. Growing up as a kid just trying to learn how to play the game, be successful and get to the big leagues. Now I have quite some time now and quite some amount of games which is pretty impressive from a little kid just trying to get to the big leagues from Aruba. I’m extremely proud of myself and I’m thankful for everyone who helped me, especially my family, for always being there for support throughout the good and the bad.”

As things stand now, Bogaerts is a two-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger award winner who has played in and won two World Series titles with the Red Sox.

That is obviously impressive, but for Bogaerts to be where he is today was no guarantee.

After making a brief cameo in 2013, the then-21-year-old certainly had a somewhat rough time of things during his first full season in the majors in 2014.

Opening the year as Boston’s everyday shortstop, Bogaerts got off to a strong start, slashing .296/.389/.427 with three home runs and 13 RBI through his first 54 games.

Even while Bogaerts was putting up those solid numbers, the Red Sox brought back veteran infielder Stephen Drew after third baseman Will Middlebrooks went down with a broken finger. That was a move that would eventually require Bogaerts to move to third base, much to the chagrin of the lifetime shortstop.

On the night Drew signed with Boston — May 20 — Bogaerts committed two errors at shortstop in a home game against the Blue Jays and heard boos from the Fenway faithful as a result.

As The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier wrote in Homegrown, “the moment crushed Bogaerts and led him to question the organization’s view of him and his future.”

“What am I supposed to think?” Bogaerts asked reporters following that 7-4 loss to Toronto. “How will I know that if we’re 20-30 next year and I’m playing shortstop, they won’t do this again?

“I spent so much time working there and for what?” He added. “If I move now, how am I supposed to get better so that I can stay there?”

Bogaerts would remain at shortstop until Drew was ready to face big-league pitching: June 2, the date he was recalled from Pawtucket.

From that point forward, Bogaerts — despite moving back to short after Drew was traded to the Yankees on July 31 — slashed a dismal .206/.240/.324 for the remainder of the 2014 campaign.

For Bogaerts, looking back at that turbulent time in his career serves as an important reminder for how far he has come since then.

“I started off pretty good winning a World Series my first year. That was nice,” he said Thursday. “But I know my next year after that, I kind of went through a rough stretch. I remember getting booed in 2014, and I was so young. I was like, ‘What the hell are these people booing for me, man? I’m just 21.’

“I’ve learned a lot throughout the years, man,” continued Bogaerts. “I definitely got to give a lot of thanks to my family. It’s been so special to be able to accomplish all these things with everyone in my family that was a huge part of my life, my baseball trajectory. I’m very thankful for them to start with.”

Under manager Alex Cora, Bogaerts has added another dimension to his game. Not only has he been one of the more productive shortstops in baseball over the last four seasons, but he has emerged as a veteran leader as well.

“I do believe he is the most consistent person in the organization,” Cora said of of Bogaerts Thursday. “Off the field. On the field. Physically, what he does in the offseason, the way he takes care of himself during the season. The way he goes about his business. Everything’s about winning for him. He came here in 2013, had a taste, got a ring. That was a special group — a group of grinders: (Mike) Napoli, (Stephen) Drew, (Jonny) Gomes, David (Ortiz), (Dustin) Pedroia. A bunch of grinders. (Shane) Victorino. And he learned right away what it’s all about to play in this market, in this city, in this stadium, for this franchise. He doesn’t take a day for granted. He’s not as vocal or as loud as Dustin… But he’s always ready. He’s always prepared.”

Cora, who hails from Puerto Rico, is aware of how good some of the other shortstops in baseball are, including those from the island like Francisco Lindor, Javy Baez, and Carlos Correa.

“But I’m happy that my shortstop is Xander Bogaerts,” said the Sox skipper. “And hopefully, he can play here for a long, long time.”

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Bogaerts is under contract through 2025 (vesting option for 2026), though he could opt out of his current deal after the 2022 season.

Since signing a six-year, $120 million extension with Boston at the start of the 2019 season, Bogaerts ranks first among qualified shortstops in hits, first in RBI, second in home runs, second in runs scored, second in OPS, second in wRC+, and second in fWAR, per FanGraphs.

To put it simply, Bogaerts is a quality baseball player on and off the field. And as he prepares to play in his 1,001st game with the Red Sox in Baltimore on Friday, the two-time World Series champion is just thankful to get to the 1,000-game threshold.

“If you asked me if I would have imagined playing 1,000 games, I would have been like, ‘That’s a lot,’ he said. “I definitely will take it. For you to be able to play 1,000 games in an organization, you have to be productive and be a guy who, pretty much, they can rely on. I’m happy with the player I’ve become.”

(Picture of Xander Bogaerts: Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)

New Podding the Red Sox episode: Looking back on Carlton Fisk signing with the White Sox 40 years later

On this week’s installment of Podding the Red Sox: A BloggingtheRedSox.com Podcast, I briefly look back at a significant moment in Red Sox history that occurred 40 years ago Thursday.

On March 18, 1981, former Red Sox catcher and future Hall of Famer Carlton “Pudge” Fisk signed a five-year, $3 million contract with the White Sox after he was made a free agent over the winter thanks to a clerical issue.

Fisk would go on to accomplish great things in 11 years with the White Sox, leaving many to wonder why the Red Sox weren’t overly interested in bringing the New England native back considering he had become a fan favorite in Boston.

For more information on Fisk’s illustrious career, click here, here, here, and here.

This episode is barely over four minutes long, and I apologize for that. As I am typing this, I am working on getting some guests for next week and beyond, so I’m hopeful that we will not run into this problem again anytime soon.

For now, this latest episode of Podding the Red Sox is available to listen to on iTunes and Spotify, among other platforms.

Thank you for listening and we will see you next time! Please make sure to subscribe and leave a five-star review if you can!

(Picture of Carlton Fisk: Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

On This Day in Red Sox History: Jacoby Ellsbury Steals Club Record Five Bases in Single Game

On this day in 2013, Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole five bases as part of a 9-2 victory over the Phillies in Philadelphia, setting the franchise record for most swiped bags in a single game.

The record Ellsbury broke on that faithful Thursday had stood since Ellsbury himself stole four bases in a game against the Yankees in August 2010 to tie Jerry Remy’s single-game record from June 14th of the 1980 season.

Batting leadoff against the Phillies, Ellsbury, then 29 years old, got his historic night started in the top half of the second, when he reached base on a one-out walk against Jonathan Pettibone and proceeded to steal second with Dustin Pedroia at the plate.

Fast forward to the fourth, and Ellsbury was at it again, as the speedster singled with one out in the frame before swiping second once more while Pettibone was dealing with Daniel Nava.

In the sixth, the Oregon native perhaps took advantage of a rattled Jeremy Horst, who had just yielded a two-out solo shot to Jonny Gomes, and was awarded first base after getting plunked with a pitch.

Before Horst even had the chance to get too deep into his matchup with Nava, Ellsbury put his wheels on display yet again, stealing second and third base in a matter of minutes to tie the Red Sox’ single-game record for stolen bases.

And in the eighth, after reaching on a two-out line-drive single off of Phillies reliever Michael Stutes, Ellsbury etched his name into the record books by swiping second for his fifth and final stolen base of the evening. He also advanced to third on a fielding error.

By stealing those five bases, Ellsbury became the first major-leaguer to accomplish the feat since future Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford did the same as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays in a game against Boston in 2009.

Heading into that contest against Philadelphia, Ellsbury’s OPS on the season stood at .691. From the beginning of June to end of the 2013 campaign, the speedy outfielder slashed .318/.367/.462 with 31 stolen bases to earn a top-15 finish in American League MVP voting.

As we all know, the 2013 season was also Ellsbury’s last with the Red Sox, as he inked a seven-year, $153 million deal with the Yankees shortly after Boston took home their eighth World Series title that October.

 

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Ted Williams Raises Batting Average Over .400 for First Time in 1941

On this day in 1941, Red Sox legend Ted Williams went 4-for-5 at the plate with one double and two RBI as part of a 10-3 victory for Boston over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.

Entering that Sunday, Williams owned a .383/.473/.606 slash line through his first 28 contests of the 1941 campaign. The four-hit showing raised his batting average on the season to a robust .404. It would never fall below the .393 mark again for the remainder of the year.

Yes, when all was said and done in 1941 and the Sox finished with the second-best record in the American League, The Kid owned the best batting average in all of baseball at .406, securing his first of six career batting titles.

Over the course of 143 games played that year, Williams led the junior circuit in hitting (.406), on-base percentage (.533), slugging (.735), home runs (37), runs scored (135), and wRC+ (221). He finished just a handful of RBI short of winning the Triple Crown, but the fact that Williams was statistically the best player in the AL did not result in an uptick in MVP votes.

Instead, the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio was named the American’s League Most Valuable Player, in part because of a mid-season hitting streak that spanned 56 games, and he beat out Williams by a fairly wide margin.

That may have been the case because at the time, hitting for a high average was not exactly a rarity in baseball.

By hitting .406 in 1941, Williams became the ninth player since 1871 to surpass the .400 plateau in a single season. Since that time, as you may already be aware, no player has batted .400 or better over the course of a full season. In other words, The Splendid Splinter is the last major-league hitter to bat over .400.

“I hope somebody hits .400 soon,” Williams once said sometime after accomplishing the feat. “Then people can start pestering that guy with questions about the last guy to hit .400.”

It hasn’t happened yet, and it probably won’t happen anytime soon, either. Since the turn of the century, the closest any player has gotten to hitting .400 was Nomar Garciaparra, who batted .372 in 2000, and Ichiro Suzuki, who also batted .372 in 2004.

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Ted Williams Enlists in U.S. Navy

On this day in in 1942, Red Sox legend Ted Williams enlisted in the United States Navy a little more than five months after Pearl Harbor had been attacked by Japanese forces and the U.S. entered World War II as a result.

At the time of his joining the Navy reserves voluntarily, Williams was 31 games into what would turn out to be a superb 1942 campaign.

The Kid was coming off a 3-for-5 effort in Cleveland the day before his enlistment, raising his slash line on the year to a robust .319/.458/.611 to go along with nine home runs and 37 RBI.

Despite being exempt from the draft due to his mother’s dependence on him, Williams faced criticism from fans and media alike as his courage was put into question.

Still, even though he didn’t have to, Williams, who was 23 at the time, enlisted in the Navy on May 22nd and was sworn in that same day.

From there, the Splendid Splinter went on to finish second in 1942 American League MVP voting behind Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon despite winning the Triple Crown and leading the junior circuit in several offensive categories.

The Red Sox finished second in the American League that year, and in November, Williams was called into active duty.

For the next three years, in what would have been his age-24, 25, and 26 seasons, Williams never saw any live combat, but he did spend his time training, eventually earning his wings and Marine Corps commission in 1944 and attending flight school in Florida for a few years before being discharged in January 1946.

Williams re-joined the Sox that spring and picked up right where he left off in terms of offensive production. He was however recalled to military service later on in 1952, serving as a Marine Corps captain and member of the first Marine Air Wing during the Korean War.

For more on Williams, click here, here, and here.

 

 

On This Day in Red Sox History: Pedro Martinez Leads off With Immaculate Inning

On this day in 2002, Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez took the mound at Fenway Park for his eighth start of the season, this one coming against the 29-12 Seattle Mariners.

Entering that dreary and cold evening in Boston, Martinez owned a 4-0 record to go along with a 3.49 ERA and .616 OPS against through his first seven starts and 38 2/3 innings pitched of the ’02 campaign.

As indicated by their record, the Mariners were a pretty decent club up to this point in the 2002 season. They had just taken two out of three from Boston in Seattle the previous weekend and took the opener of the three-game set at Fenway the day before Pedro took the hill.

That said, Martinez dominated the M’s in the Sox’ lone win in the Emerald city, and he followed suit with another impressive outing in his third consecutive start against an American League West foe on that faithful Saturday.

What was even more splendid about this performance from Martinez was how he led it off: With an immaculate inning.

That’s right, by getting Ichiro Suzuki, Mark McLemore, and Ruben Sierra to all fan on three pitches each, the Dominican national became the 11th pitcher in American League history to record an immaculate frame. In other words, three batters faced, nine pitches thrown, and three punchouts. Not too shabby.

That set the tone for Martinez to best the Mariners once more, as he went on to surrender just one run over eight solid innings while scattering six hits and one HBP to go along with nine strikeouts on the night.

Improving to 6-0 on the year thanks to this start, Martinez went on to finish second in American League Cy Young voting and 20th in AL MVP voting in 2002.

Since Martinez accomplished the feat on this day 18 years ago, Clay Buccholz, Craig Kimbrel, Rick Porcello, and Chris Sale have been the only Red Sox pitchers to also toss an immaculate inning, with Sale doing it on two separate occasions last season.