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)

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts dealing with shoulder soreness, Alex Cora says

Xander Bogaerts is “a little bit banged up” and dealing with some right shoulder soreness, Red Sox manager Alex Cora said Monday.

The 28-year-old shortstop arrived to camp in Fort Myers on time a little more than a week ago, but had been shut down from throwing at one point on account of that aforementioned soreness.

That said, it sounds like he is starting to make some progress towards a full recovery.

As for the reason why Bogaerts has been hindered by a sore shoulder, that has something to do with the fact that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic affected his offseason workouts in his home country of Aruba.

“He rushed himself with his throwing program during the offseason,” Cora said of the star infielder. “With everything that is going on with the virus, there were a few things he wasn’t able to do in Aruba because of lockdowns or whatever they had going on down there for the right reasons. So it wasn’t a regular offseason on that end.”

Despite those limitations, Bogaerts was still able to hit, but he may have overdone things with his throwing program in order to make up for lost time.

“He was able to hit and all that, but his throwing program wasn’t perfect. So he rushed himself,” said Cora. “He was sore for a few days. We shut him down. He should be back to throwing in the next couple of days. He will take groundballs and all that. The hitting part, he’ll be okay in a few days.”

Although Cora did not reveal when Bogaerts would be fit enough to make his Grapefruit League debut this spring, he did not seem all that concerned that the two-time All-Star would miss the start of the 2021 season, which begins on April 1.

“We just got to be patient,” the Sox skipper stated. “We got plenty of days — 30 more days. As of now, we do feel that he should be ready for Opening Day.”

Additionally, Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom told The Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato that Bogaerts had an MRI on his sore shoulder, though said MRI revealed “nothing concerning.”

Bloom, like Cora, expects Bogaerts to be ready for Opening Day.

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

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts named third-best shortstop in baseball by MLB Network

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts was ranked by MLB Network as the No. 3 shortstop in baseball headed into the 2021 season on Tuesday night.

Finishing behind the likes of Rockies star Trevor Story and Padres sensation Fernando Tatis Jr., Bogaerts is coming off yet another quality campaign in 2020.

Across 56 games played last year, the 28-year-old posted a .300/.364/.502 slash line to go along with 11 home runs and 28 RBI over 225 total plate appearances.

2020 marked the third consecutive season in which Bogaerts finished with an on-base percentage north of .360, a slugging percentage north of .500, and an OPS+ exceeding 130. He finished in the top-20 in American League MVP voting in each of those three seasons.

Going back to Opening Day 2018, the Aruban infielder has accrued 13.6 fWAR in 347 total games played, the second-highest fWAR total among qualified major-league shortstops behind only Francisco Lindor, who accrued 14.0 fWAR in 361 games played with the Indians over that same stretch.

Bogaerts would likely be at the top of FanGraphs’ WAR leaderboards if the defensive metrics fell in line with what he did on the field.

As MLB Network’s Brian Kenny put it Tuesday night, “the defensive metrics do not like [Bogaerts]. Maybe it’s accurate, maybe not quite. But otherwise he would be a WAR leader as well.”

Last year alone, Bogaerts posted negative-5 defensive runs saved and an ultimate zone rating of just 0.3 over 438 innings at shortstop. He also registered negative-2 outs above average at the position, per Baseball Savant.

With spring training set to begin in just a few short weeks, the two-time All-Star is certainly not at risk of losing his starting job, but that doesn’t mean lofty expectations will be placed upon him heading into the new season.

Just ask Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

“Xander, for instance, when you talk about about the shortstops around the league and now you add [Corey] Seager to that equation, he’s up there with them,” Cora said of Bogaerts back in November. “Maybe the next step for us is to push Xander to be a better defender — and he’s not a bad defender — but to become an elite defender.”

Bogaerts, who does not turn 29 until October, is entering the second year of the six-year, $120 million contract extension he signed with Boston shortly after the start of the 2019 season.

He also has the option to opt out of his contract and become a free-agent at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

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

Why 2021 could prove to be pivotal year for Red Sox infield prospect Antoni Flores

In the summer of 2017, the Red Sox made infielder Antoni Flores one of their top priorities, as they signed the Venezuelan prospect for a hefty sum of $1,400,000 that July, which would go on to make him the third-highest paid international addition of that particular signing class for Boston.

Flores initially rewarded the Sox for their investment in him the following year in both the Dominican Summer League and Gulf Coast League.

Over 15 total games and 57 total plate appearances between the two affiliates, the young infielder, primarily playing shortstop, went 18-for-53 (.340) at the plate to go along with one home run and 14 RBI.

The reason Flores only managed to play in 15 games, in 2018 was due to the fact that he missed six weeks of action from mid-June until late July due to “general soreness.”

Upon returning and getting promoted from the DSL to GCL, Flores played in just two games before pulling his hamstring in early August, which wound wind up costing him the rest of the season.

The fact Flores was able to put on an impressive showing at the Red Sox’ fall instructional league that year in the wake of suffering that hamstring injury was certainly encouraging, but more red flags arose in 2019.

Entering the year regarded by SoxProspects.com as Boston’s No. 7 prospect, Flores struggled mightily in his first exposure to non-rookie-league baseball in the United States.

Playing in 55 games for the short-season Lowell Spinners, the then-18-year-old posted a dismal .193/.293/.227 slash line over 208 plate appearances while striking out 28.4% of the time. He also committed 10 errors in 410 defensive innings at shortstop, which would signal a transition to second base.

According to SoxProspects‘ director of scouting Ian Cundall, “scouts really soured on Flores” following his first full professional season, “as he showed a poor approach and limited offensive ability while simultaneously struggling in the field.”

Unfortunately, Flores would not get the chance to bounce back in a traditional manner in 2020, as the minor-league season was cancelled in June due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, Flores, like most other Red Sox minor-leaguers, had to wait until the 2020 installment of fall instructs to try to continue on with their development.

Alas, a long break from organized baseball did the right-handed hitter no favors, as he continued to underwhelm in Fort Myers this past fall.

Per Cundall, Flores, now 20 years old, “again struggled and now seems to have moved to second base primarily. The athleticism he showed in the Fall Instructional League in 2018 is gone, and his speed has regressed to the point where he was consistently timed at 4.6 seconds down the line, which is a 20 on the 20-80 scouting scale.”

FanGraphs‘ Eric Longenhagen added on to this, writing last month that though he wished Flores’ disappointing 2019 was more of an outlier, it may have very well been the start of a negative trend.

“Flores was generating Willy Adames comps during the Fall of 2018, and has since regressed physically and technically,” Longenhagen wrote. “He no longer looks athletically capable of playing the middle infield and has continued to struggle with the bat.”

While Longenhagen still has Flores as his No. 43 prospect in the Red Sox farm system, he notes that “he’s in danger of slipping off the list entirely next year unless he performs statistically and looks more athletic early in the year.” 

SoxProspects projects Flores, who does not turn 21 until October, will start the 2021 minor-league season with Low-A Salem.

Before the 2021 season begins, though, there is still the minor-league portion of spring training — which will likely start later than usual this year — to look forward to.

Between the time fall instructs ended and the time in which minor-league spring training eventually starts up, it appears as though the Sox have given Flores some homework to do.

“Antoni has been working on his agility and quickness a lot this offseason,” Red Sox assistant general manager Eddie Romero, who played a significant role in Flores signing with the organization, told BloggingtheRedSox.com via email. “He’s made a lot of strides in the past few months, so we’re looking forward to seeing him in spring training.”

On that note, 2021 could prove to be a monumental year for Flores in terms of development and career trajectory.

Not only is the 6-foot-1, 190 lb. infielder looking to buck the trend that has seen his stock take a hit in recent years, but he is also Rule 5 eligible for the first time come December.

If he were to make an impact with Salem, or whichever affiliate he played with this year, Flores could be added to the Sox’ 40-man roster if Boston believes in his potential enough to not want to see him scooped up by another club.

If Flores were not to be added, which does seem unlikely at this point given the fact that other prospects such as Jarren Duran, Jeter Downs, Thad Ward, and Gilberto Jimenez will be in need of protection, then as previously mentioned, an opposing team could pick him up if they felt he was ready to make an impact at the major-league level.

That, too, seems unlikely, but there’s a reason why Flores was once considered one of the top prospects in the Sox’ farm system. The talent is still there somewhere, and so is a relatively high ceiling given his age.

Having written all that, it’s fair to say that 2021 could be a ‘make-or-break’ type year for Flores. We will have to wait and see how he performs.

(Picture of Antoni Flores: Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com)

Red Sox manager Alex Cora hoping Xander Bogaerts can become ‘elite defender’ at shortstop

Xander Bogaerts has proven to be one of the best shortstops in all of baseball in recent years, but that’s not stopping Red Sox manager Alex Cora from wanting more out of the 28-year-old moving forward.

Bogaerts just wrapped up a 2020 campaign in which he finished 17th in American League MVP voting thanks to putting up a .300/.364/.502 slash line to go along with 11 home runs and 28 RBI over 56 games played.

Impressive offensive production, per usual. However, the Aruban-born infielder put up rather unimpressive defensive numbers, as has been the trend since he made his first career Opening Day roster back in 2014.

Among 20 qualified major-league shortstops this past season, Bogaerts ranked 19th in Defensive Runs Saved (-5), which essentially means he cost the Red Sox five runs, and 13th in Ultimate Zone Rating (0.3).

Going back to 2014, the two-time All-Star has posted negative DRS totals in each of his last seven seasons with Boston, per FanGraphs.

The Red Sox, with Cora back at the helm, would like to see Bogaerts put it all together and become just as adequate with the glove as he is with the bat in his hands.

“Xander, for instance, when you talk about about the shortstops around the league and now you add [Corey] Seager to that equation, he’s up there with them,” Cora said of Bogaerts when speaking with NESN’s Tom Caron earlier this week. “Maybe the next step for us is to push Xander to be a better defender — and he’s not a bad defender — but to become an elite defender.”

This isn’t the first time Cora has brought up Bogaerts’ need to improve defensively, either. The Sox skipper said something along these same lines at least year’s winter meetings in San Diego.

Now that he is back, perhaps Cora will get on his shortstop in a similar fashion to the way he got on Rafael Devers in 2019. Of course, Devers has his own defensive kinks to work out, and Cora spoke about that process with Caron, too.

“With Raffy, we know what we have to work with,” he said. Expect both Bogaerts and Devers to be a focal point at the start of spring training in February.

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Says It Would ‘Be Hard’ to Have All MLB Games Played in One City This Season If Baseball Does Return

With no baseball to be played for the time being while the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has had more time on his hands recently, and he spent some of that time talking to GQ’s Alex Shultz last week.

Discussing a wide range of topics, the two-time All-Star went into depth on what he’s been doing in his native Aruba since Red Sox players and staff went back to their homes last month.

“I don’t wake up at 8 AM doing workouts no more because we don’t have a timetable for returning,” he said when describing what the average day has looked for him recently. “I usually wake up and go to my PlayStation right away, playing lots of FIFA and Fortnite. Then I have breakfast, maybe some eggs or cereal, and do a workout afterwards in the afternoon. I don’t have much to do. If it’s not a workout or PlayStation, I’m playing dominoes with my buddies. Here in Aruba, they want you to social distance, so no more than four people in a group.”

Bogaerts emphasized how he is just trying to maintain right now, telling Shultz that “This is a crazy time and we don’t know if we’re even going to have a season. I don’t want to be the one who’s not doing anything, and then they tell you the season is starting and I’m so far behind. It’s really tough mentally to try and stay in shape.”

To stay in shape, Bogaerts said that he tries to throw with his twin brother Jair everyday in addition to going to the beach, but “in Aruba, you can only go [to the beach] if it’s for workouts. No one can go to chill. Makes the beach a little more boring. But I do some running drills that strengthen your legs and lower body.”

The 27-year-old is coming off a breakout campaign in 2019 in which he finished fifth in American League MVP voting. He accredited that breakout to gaining more experience last season, and how in “the year prior, we had some coaching changes that helped unpack some stuff that I had hidden. It made me become a much better player. All of my hitting coaches have had good, different philosophies, but this one kind of took me to another level.”

In regards to holding out hope for there to be a baseball season in 2020, Bogaerts added that it can be hard to focus at times while working out because there is no set date for a return yet.

Said Bogaerts, “In the offseason, you work out and look forward to February reporting day. You know you have to be ready for that specific day. Now, you don’t have anything like that. We’ll have to wait and see when the experts say it’s the right time to play.”

Another factor in all that uncertainty also includes where games will be played in 2020 if baseball does indeed return.

Several proposals–such as playing games in Arizona, Florida, or even Texas–have been thrown out there, but nothing is definite nor agreed upon at this point in time.

As an international player signed out of Aruba in August 2009, Bogaerts has grown accustomed to being away from his family back home for months at a time. However, he understands that it would be more challenging for American-born players to make such a sacrifice if teams play all their games in one city in 2020.

“That’s going to be hard,” Bogaerts said of the proposed neutral location plan. “I don’t know how they would do that.”

Since signing a six-year, $120 million extension with Boston last April, Bogaerts has emerged as a veteran presence and a leader in the Red Sox clubhouse. It would be nice to see him build on a successful 2019 season sometime this year. We’ll have to wait and see on that, though.

To read Bogaerts’ full interview with GQ, click here.

To follow Bogaerts on Instagram, click here.

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Set to Make Spring Debut Against Tigers

For the first time this spring, Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is set to make a Grapefruit League start.

Yes, after being sidelined with a sore left ankle since reporting to camp last month, the 27-year-old will serve as designated hitter and bat out of the three-hole for Boston against the Tigers at JetBlue Park on Wednesday.

Bogaerts initially suffered the injury while partaking in offseason workouts in his home country of Aruba back in early February, but he has progressed nicely over the past week or so.

“He’s pretty close to getting in a game,” interim manager Ron Roenicke said of Bogaerts Tuesday. “We’ll probably start him at DH. I guess he’s made a lot of progress over the last couple days.”

Lo and behold, Bogaerts is starting at DH for the Sox on Wednesday. He’ll probably get anywhere between two to three plate appearances.

And despite this setback, Bogaerts is still expected to be ready for Opening Day on March 26th.

Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts Dealing With Sore Left Ankle

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts is currently dealing with a sore left ankle, according to interim manager Ron Roenicke. The 27-year-old apparently aggravated it while going through offseason drills in his home country of Aruba last month.

“His ankle is a little bit sore,” Roenicke said of Bogaerts’ ankle. “So these couple, three days we’re probably going to go a little bit easy on him. It’s nothing alarming. But it is a little sore. So we’re going to back off on him a little bit.”

When speaking with reporters for the first time Sunday, Bogaerts echoed the same sort of sentiment, saying, “There’s no reason for us to force it [at spring training]. Just trying to make sure we get it right and when I start, I can finish.”

Entering his seventh full season in the majors, Bogaerts has emerged as an important veteran leader in the Red Sox clubhouse, and he may even be the face of the franchise now that Mookie Betts is a Dodger.

The two-time All-Star slashed .309/.384/.555 with a career-best 33 home runs and 117 RBI over 155 games last season en route to a Silver Slugger award and a top-five finish in American League MVP voting.

While obviously a bit concerning, this sore left ankle for Bogaerts does not seem to be all that worrisome. It will be interesting to see how he is holding up later next week.

Other Red Sox players on the 40-man roster that could play shortstop include Jonathan Arauz, C.J. Chatham, Tzu-Wei Lin, and Jose Peraza.