August 2013

Bogaerts checks into new home

Xander Bogaerts had an arrival for the second week in a row. Last time, he showed up as a Major Leaguer when the Red Sox opened a six-game road trip through San Francisco and Los Angeles.

This time, he was able to put on his home whites for the first time.

The one thing you’ll notice about the highly-touted prospect is that he just about always has a smile on his face.

“I guess it’s something natural for me,” Bogaerts said.

And even if Bogaerts isn’t playing every day — he was not in Tuesday’s lineup — what’s not to love about being in the Majors in the middle of a pennant race?”Definitely a lot of difference compared to minors,” Bogaerts said. “I’m really enjoying every moment of it. Thankfully we won a few games so that maybe enough there. I’m just thankful to be here.”

Bogaerts had been to Fenway before Tuesday, but under different circumstances.  “This is actually the third time I came here, but the first time I’ve been on the field for BP and stuff. The grass and dirt is pretty nice. Hopefully I get accustomed to the BP and stuff and have better BPs in a couple of days.”

What is it like taking BP with the inviting Monster just 310 feet away?  “I didn’t try to think about it too much. I just tried to go right field normally, is what I like to do. Just try to be me and not try and press at all.”

Bogaerts smiled when asked the difference between playing at Fenway and his homeland of Aruba. “A lot of rocks in aruba and no rocks here. just clean and smooth. A big difference, especially with all the fans, hopefully I get to see all the fans tonight.”

One thing a Boston player always must deal with is a lot of media. Right now, that’s not bothering him. “A lot of reporters, man. that’s all I can say. I was pretty surprised. On the road, it wasn’t that much but you guys have a job to do so I’m here to help you guys.”

A first: Middlebrooks playing second

SAN FRANCISCO — Prior to the bottom of the seventh inning in Wednesday’s game against the Giants, Red Sox manager John Farrell raised two fingers to Will Middlebrooks. Poor Middlebrooks. He had no idea what his manager meant by the signal.

How could he? Middlebrooks had never played second base in his life. Not in LIttle League, not in high school, not in the Minors and certainly not n the Majors.

But with the latest roster shuffle leaving the Red Sox without a backup second baseman, Middlebrooks has now inherited that role. Farrell decided to give him a trial by fire in Wednesday’s game with the Red Sox holding a double-digit lead.

Middlebrooks did not disappoint, turning the middle of a 6-4-3 double play in the bottom of the seventh.

On the same day Middlebrooks hit a two-run homer earlier in the game, he had no problem identifying his highlight of the game.

“Probably turning the DP,: Middlebrooks said. “That was a lot of fun. That was out of nowhere, I wasn’t expecting it, that was a lot of fun.”

Farrell took a leap of faith thinking Middlebrooks could be comfortable at second just by judging how he looked when the Red Sox overshift on left-handed batters. That doesn’t mean Middlebrooks has had much time to work on second base since his return to Boston a couple of weeks ago.

“Not much. I haven’t worked on it. I haven’t turned a play up the middle since I was 18 in Texarkana, Texas, so it’s been awhile.’’

It was a funny moment when Farrell told Middlebrooks he was switching from third to second late in the game.

“I thought I misunderstood him,” Middlebrooks said. “He looked at me and [held up two fingers]. I had just grounded out. He gave me ‘this’ and I didn’t know what he was talking about. I had to run up and get a different glove. I have a smaller one.”

Middlerooks agrees with Farrell’s reasoning that the shift coverage helped him prepare a little for the unfamiliar responsibility.

“Yeah, absolutely, that way I can at least see the angle of the balls and how the ball comes off the bat. It really wasn’t that big of a difference, it wasn’t a big deal,” said Middlebrooks.

So Middlebrooks really never played second before Wednesday?

“No, never, never, never. Shortstop my whole life then I played third my first year in pro ball.,” Middlebrooks said.

Fortunately for the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia doesn’t require much time off. Middlebrooks will be the insurance option at second until Sept. 1, when rosters are expanded. With the Red Sox having multiple off-days before then, Pedroia probably won’t need to come out of the starting lineup, barring an injury.

And the way Middlebrooks has been swinging the bat, the Red Sox want to keep him right where he is — at the hot corner.

Bogaerts batting seventh in debut

Xander Bogaerts, projected by many to be the next homegrown star for the Boston Red Sox, will make his debut Tuesday night in San Francisco, starting at shortstop and batting seventh.

David Ortiz, who started at first Monday night, will take the night off in preparation for Wednesday’s day game. Mike Carp got the start at first with Mike Napoli apparently still experiencing soreness from his left foot injury. David Ross, coming off his second concussion, will start at catcher, marking his first game action since June 14.

Clay Buchholz took another significant step toward his return when he threw a simulated game earlier today in San Francisco.

Napoli dropped to seventh in lineup

It was just a few days ago that Mike Napoli was dropped from fifth to sixth in manager John Farrell’s lineup. With his slump showing no signs of lifting, Napoli moved down again for Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays — this time to the No. 7 hole for the first time this season.

Napoli has just five hits in 37 at-bats in August, with no homers and three RBIs.

For the season, he has 158 strikeouts in 460 plate appearances.

The news of Napoli’s move down in the batting order was announced by Farrell in his weekly radio segment with WEEI on Wednesday.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 84 other followers