Red Sox News: Xander Bogaerts getting close to playing in spring training
By Sean Penney
Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has been sidelined by an ankle injury this spring but he’s getting close to appearing in games.
Xander Bogaerts has yet to see the field for the Boston Red Sox this spring but he’s expected to make his Grapefruit League season debut this week, reports The Boston Globe’s Julian McWilliams.
Bogaerts has been on the sidelined for the first 10 games of the exhibition schedule while nursing a sore ankle, leading to some concern about his availability for Opening Day. While the injury isn’t considered severe enough to keep him out quite that long, hitters need time to allow their bodies to adjust to the daily grind and find their rhythm at the plate. The more time he misses in camp, the further behind he will be in preparing for the regular season.
We’re still waiting on confirmation from the team as to when Bogaerts will appear in a game but the star shortstop believes he is “close” to 100 percent, although he admits to dealing with some soreness as he works his way back into game shape.
"“I’ve started doing baseball activities, so sometimes I get sore in other areas because I haven’t been swinging, taking grounders, stuff like that,” Bogaerts told McWilliams on Monday. “I think it’s all coming along well.”"
Bogaerts is coming off an All-Star campaign in which he hit .309 with a .939 OPS, won a Silver Slugger and finished fifth on the MVP ballot. He racked up 52 doubles, 33 home runs, and trailed only teammate Rafael Devers in the American League with 85 extra-base hits.
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Bogaerts is chomping at the bit to get back on field so he can build on that career year. While it’s been frustrating for him to sit out, a return at some point this week still leaves about three weeks to ramp up for Opening Day.
Last spring, the 19 exhibition games that Bogaerts appeared in tied him for the most by a position player who was in the Red Sox Opening Day lineup. Sam Travis, who was fighting for a roster spot, appeared in a team-high 24 games while the other players ahead of Bogaerts were prospects.
He won’t hit that total this year. A best-case scenario would be a return on Tuesday against the New York Yankees, which would leave only 21 games on the spring schedule. None of the position players are going to play every day in spring training and the Red Sox certainly won’t push Bogaerts when he’s coming back from an injury.
J.D. Martinez played in 15 spring games last year while Mitch Moreland saw only 13 appearances. Both were in the Opening Day lineup despite fewer spring appearances. That 13-15 game range is a realistic target for Bogaerts.
Veteran players typically get more time off in camp and while he’s only 27 years old, Bogaerts is considered a veteran at this point. His role on the team is secured so his focus in camp is primarily on getting into game shape, working on his swing and settling back into a routine. A return this week should give him ample time to get ready.