Bogaerts: Wise (and talented) beyond his years
New Pawtucket Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts turns a double play during the first game of the PawSoxâ€™s doubleheader against the Buffalo Bisons at McCoy Stadium. At the age of 20, Bogaerts is the youngest positional player in the teamâ€™s history. PHOTO BY LOURIANN MARDO-ZAYAT
PAWTUCKET â€“ Xander Bogaerts reached Triple-A Pawtucket as a 20-year-old and with 290 Double-A at-bats in 79 games to his credit.
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Just to provide an idea of how unique his situation is, below is a list of former and current PawSox position players and where they stood at-bat and age-wise upon leaving Portland:
â€“ Dustin Pedroia (256 at-bats in 66 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
â€“ Will Middlebrooks (37 at-bats in 96 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
â€“ Jacoby Ellsbury (271 at-bats in 67 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 23).
â€“ Ryan Lavarnway (366 at-bats in 99 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 23).
â€“ Jose Iglesias (221 at-bats in 57 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
â€“ Jackie Bradley Jr. (229 at-bats in 61 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
While every playerâ€™s situation should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, the most notable difference between Bogaerts and the aforementioned players is age. The much-ballyhooed prospect made waves as the youngest player in the Eastern League this season, a distinction that remains the case now that heâ€™s playing his games in the International League.
As Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett explained Friday, the topic of Bogaertsâ€™ age as it relates to placing him in an advanced level was not a reason to hold him back at this juncture.
â€śHe was in big-league camp this year and spent time with older players during the World Baseball Classic,â€ť noted Crockett. â€śWe try not to put a specific timetable on when people need to get called up or not. Not only that, it puts us in a tough spot of either feeling like heâ€™s been disappointing or shown that heâ€™s ready.
â€śWe want Xander to be in a place where heâ€™s challenged and can continue to get better,â€ť Crockett continued. â€śWhile he certainly could do that at Double A and has done it by going out and having success, heâ€™ll benefit even more from the challenge of Triple A.â€ť
Alex Hassan is listed on Bostonâ€™s 40-man roster. Such a distinction helps spell out what manager Gary DiSarcina has to do now that Hassan is back with the PawSox.
â€śAlex is going to get worked in. Weâ€™ve got a boatload of outfielders now, but heâ€™s a priority. Heâ€™s a 40-man guy. Heâ€™s going to play a little first base,â€ť said DiSarcina prior to Thursdayâ€™s game against Buffalo getting rained out. â€śStart him off slow â€“ he hasnâ€™t been playing a ton. Manage his games played early so heâ€™s feeling comfortable and healthy. Forty-man guy â€¦ they have to play, thereâ€™s no doubt about it.â€ť
When Hassan took the field at McCoy Stadium Friday, it marked his first Triple-A game since last August. The 25-year-old Duke grad missed out on Pawtucketâ€™s run to the Governorsâ€™ Cup due to a laceration on his left leg. During the playoffs, then-Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler noted that Hassan, â€śHeâ€™s probably healed up to play, but if he opened it back up, now weâ€™re back to square one with the greater chance of infection.â€ť
Fast forward to Opening Day 2013 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hassan was listed on that nightâ€™s lineup card but wound up getting scratched roughly 30 minutes prior to first pitch.
Suffering from a right calf strain, Hassan was sent down to Fort Myers in late April. He received clearance to vacate the Red Soxâ€™ spring-training complex and begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Greenville roughly a month upon landing at Fenway South.
Hassanâ€™s first appearance with the Drive took place May 22. His second game with the ball club didnâ€™t come until June 4 (unlike the majors, there are no such thing as timetables when a minor-league player goes on a rehab assignment, meaning itâ€™s not as if Hassan was on a specific timetable to return to Pawtucket).
From June 4 on, Hassan appeared in eight games for Greenville. His final game action took place Tuesday when he played in both ends of a doubleheader. The Quincy, Mass. native ended up batting .478 with 10 walks in 23 Class A at-bats.
â€śI didnâ€™t have a ton of at-bats during spring training, so it was good to get at-bats (in the lower minors) to kind of get you ready for this,â€ť said Hassan while standing in Pawtucketâ€™s clubhouse on Thursday.
If there are any restrictions as far as DHâ€™ing for the PawSox one day, playing the outfield the following day with a scheduled day off in between, Hassan isnâ€™t aware.
â€śGoing to Greenville, it was more of a controlled setting where I could get some of that stuff out of the way,â€ť said Hassan. â€śIt was tough going through everything, but Iâ€™m happy to be back here.â€ť
The fact that DiSarcina mentioned that a little time at first base is on Hassanâ€™s dance card probably has to do more with his 40-man classification than anything. Going back to spring training, itâ€™s safe to assume the Red Sox selected Mike Carp over Lyle Overbay is because Carp is also an outfielder in addition to a first baseman. Having the ability to play two positions worked in Carpâ€™s favor and is now something Hassan is about to take a stab at.
â€śItâ€™s something that I think I can be really good at,â€ť said Hassan when the topic switched to playing first base.
Added DiSarcina, â€śWeâ€™re not going to throw him out there until he gets some reps, but heâ€™s ready, willing and able.â€ť
For the second time week, DiSarcina had the privilege of making an early-morning phone call to a PawSox pitcher, letting him know that the parent club requested his services. Following Bostonâ€™s 14-inning win over Tampa Bay on Monday, DiSarcina got on the horn to Jose De La Torre. More late-night business was conducted after the Red Sox engaged in a 13-inning tussle with the Orioles on Thursday night. This time DiSarcina made a call to Rubby De La Rosa, who to the managerâ€™s surprise was still up and very much awake.
â€śIt was 12:15 and Rubby was watching TV,â€ť said DiSarcina about a pitcher who was being informed that he was heading to the big leagues for the first time ever. â€śI was in a dead sleep when I called Rubby and you start getting worried whether theyâ€™ll answer the phone. Sometimes theyâ€™re asleep. Itâ€™s part of the job, but itâ€™s exciting to hear their voice on the other end.â€ť
The second of four free youth clinics will take place Saturday from 2-3:15 p.m. Joining the PawSox coaching staff will be pitchers Allen Webster and Steven Wright, catcher Dan Butler, infielders Xander Bogaerts and Justin Henry and outfielders Jeremy Hazelbaker and Ronald Bermudez.