Red Sox: Checking in on Bogaerts and Abad at the WBC
Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Abad of the Boston Red Sox are competing for their respective nations in the World Baseball Classic.
In spite of those that doubted it, the World Baseball Classic has been electric so far. It seems like every game that involves the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, or Puerto Rico is must watch TV. Just look at Javier Baez making no-look tags seem routine or Jose Bautista making literal game-saving throws. The tournament has been so good this year that even Mike Trout, a vocal critic of the tournament, has had a change of heart and wants to play for Team USA in 2021.
Four players on the Red Sox had initially intended on participating in the tournament; Hanley Ramirez, Eduardo Rodriguez, Fernando Abad and Xander Bogaerts. Hanley and E-Rod dropped out due to injury concerns.
So far, the tournament has been great for both players. Bogaerts and the Netherlands just trounced Cuba 14-1 on Tuesday and booked their ticket to the semifinals after Japan eliminated Israel. They wrapped up second round pool play with a 2-1 record and will take on the winner of Pool F (USA, Venezuela or Puerto Rico) in Los Angeles on March 20.
As for Xander, he’s 4-for-19 (.211) with a triple and a couple RBIs while playing in all six of his team’s games. He went 1-for-2 with a single, walk and run in their victory on Tuesday to go along with a nice diving play at third base.
With Didi Gregorius and Andrelton Simmons on the roster, Bogaerts has been pushed over to the hot corner but appears to look comfortable.
Checking in on Fernando Abad
In two appearances with the Dominican Republic, Abad has tossed 1 1/3 innings without sacrificing a run. He’s given up two hits and no walks but hasn’t collected any punch-outs either. The DR are the powerhouse of the tournament and are expected to repeat as champions. However, their 3-1 loss to Puerto Rico on Tuesday complicated that plan as they’ll now have to compete for the runner-up position in the group. They’ll take on Venezuela Thursday and the United States Saturday.
Abad’s decision to leave Red Sox camp and join the Dominicans in the WBC was perplexing. After appearing in 18 games for the Sox last season, he posted a ghastly 6.39 ERA and fell out of favor with manager John Farrell by the time the postseason rolled around. With his spot on the big league roster far from guaranteed this year, it would be nice to see him competing at camp with the team instead of playing in the tournament.
Perhaps a greater incentive than the dignity that comes with playing in the bigs is the fact that the salary in his contract is tied to his ability to make the roster. His $2 million is only guaranteed if he makes the team out of camp. He’ll be competing with Robby Scott for the second left-handed reliever spot in the bullpen.
Next: Rick Porcello scheduled to start on Opening Day
If Abad believes that he should be a part of this team, pitching in a couple games for the Dominican Republic isn’t the way to do it.