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Bogaerts: Wise (and talented) beyond his years

June 14, 2013

New Pawtucket Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts turns a double play during the first game of the PawSox’s doubleheader against the Buffalo Bisons at McCoy Stadium. At the age of 20, Bogaerts is the youngest positional player in the team’s history. PHOTO BY LOURIANN MARDO-ZAYAT

PAWTUCKET – Xander Bogaerts reached Triple-A Pawtucket as a 20-year-old and with 290 Double-A at-bats in 79 games to his credit.
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:
– Dustin Pedroia (256 at-bats in 66 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
– Will Middlebrooks (37 at-bats in 96 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
– Jacoby Ellsbury (271 at-bats in 67 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 23).
– Ryan Lavarnway (366 at-bats in 99 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 23).
– Jose Iglesias (221 at-bats in 57 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
– Jackie Bradley Jr. (229 at-bats in 61 Double-A games. Reached Pawtucket at age 22).
While every player’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 he’s playing his games in the International League.
As Red Sox Director of Player Development Ben Crockett explained Friday, the topic of Bogaerts’ age as it relates to placing him in an advanced level was not a reason to hold him back at this juncture.
“He was in big-league camp this year and spent time with older players during the World Baseball Classic,” noted Crockett. “We 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 he’s been disappointing or shown that he’s ready.
“We want Xander to be in a place where he’s challenged and can continue to get better,” Crockett continued. “While he certainly could do that at Double A and has done it by going out and having success, he’ll benefit even more from the challenge of Triple A.”
***
Alex Hassan is listed on Boston’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.
“Alex is going to get worked in. We’ve got a boatload of outfielders now, but he’s a priority. He’s a 40-man guy. He’s going to play a little first base,” said DiSarcina prior to Thursday’s game against Buffalo getting rained out. “Start him off slow – he hasn’t been playing a ton. Manage his games played early so he’s feeling comfortable and healthy. Forty-man guy … they have to play, there’s no doubt about it.”
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 Pawtucket’s run to the Governors’ Cup due to a laceration on his left leg. During the playoffs, then-Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler noted that Hassan, “He’s probably healed up to play, but if he opened it back up, now we’re back to square one with the greater chance of infection.”
Fast forward to Opening Day 2013 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Hassan was listed on that night’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 Sox’ spring-training complex and begin a rehab assignment with Single-A Greenville roughly a month upon landing at Fenway South.
Hassan’s first appearance with the Drive took place May 22. His second game with the ball club didn’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 it’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.
“I didn’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,” said Hassan while standing in Pawtucket’s clubhouse on Thursday.
If there are any restrictions as far as DH’ing for the PawSox one day, playing the outfield the following day with a scheduled day off in between, Hassan isn’t aware.
“Going to Greenville, it was more of a controlled setting where I could get some of that stuff out of the way,” said Hassan. “It was tough going through everything, but I’m happy to be back here.”
The fact that DiSarcina mentioned that a little time at first base is on Hassan’s dance card probably has to do more with his 40-man classification than anything. Going back to spring training, it’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 Carp’s favor and is now something Hassan is about to take a stab at.
“It’s something that I think I can be really good at,” said Hassan when the topic switched to playing first base.
Added DiSarcina, “We’re not going to throw him out there until he gets some reps, but he’s ready, willing and able.”
***
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 Boston’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 manager’s surprise was still up and very much awake.
“It was 12:15 and Rubby was watching TV,” said DiSarcina about a pitcher who was being informed that he was heading to the big leagues for the first time ever. “I was in a dead sleep when I called Rubby and you start getting worried whether they’ll answer the phone. Sometimes they’re asleep. It’s part of the job, but it’s exciting to hear their voice on the other end.”
***
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.

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