Boston, the Red Sox have a Xander Bogaerts problem

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox is introduced before the 2022 Opening Day game against the Minnesota Twins on April 15, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 15: Xander Bogaerts #2 of the Boston Red Sox is introduced before the 2022 Opening Day game against the Minnesota Twins on April 15, 2022 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images) /

The Red Sox and Xander Bogaerts have a problem

Another early-season loss and Red Sox Nation is turning over every rock possible for answers. The Minnesota Twins jumped on Nick Pivetta early today and his offense wasn’t there to help him out of the jam. Once again, Boston’s bats were silent for much of today’s game except for an 8th inning surge that was quickly snuffed out.

More often than not, I look to Xander Bogaerts in times like these. The uncrowned captain of this team has had a rough go of it this year and lately, it’s been ugly. A hamstring tweak in the first game of the year may as well have set the tone for his first week of the season. Consistency has been the biggest problem to kick off 2022 and today was another notch in the negative column.

He started the season pretty damn hot, going 3-5 in that Opening Day battle with the Yankees, but since then he’s been a ghost of what we’ve come to expect from him. Since that day, Bogey has come to the plate 20 times and he’s amassed eight strikeouts to just two hits.

We simply need more from him if this season is going to matter. You can’t win a season in the first week but you can make it really challenging to compete when your chief rivals keep winning.

After today’s loss, Xander is hitting just .217/.280/.541 and has the fourth-lowest batting average in the lineup. For a guy who has been such an offensive juggernaut over the years and is more often than not the heartbeat of this offense, the Red Sox are sinking with him not showing up. As we enter the second week of the regular season it appears that there are more questions than answers around Xander.

So what exactly could be the culprit for his ice-cold showings so far? Is his pending opt-out and the contract drama weighing on his mind? Is his hamstring still a little tighter than he’s letting on? Or is it simply a case of a guy who is struggling after having a short spring training and just needs some time to shake the rust off?

Alex Cora spoke about Bogaerts today and he doesn’t believe it’s an injury or the ridiculous extension he was offered and is simply a case of him trying to be overly aggressive. The Red Sox boss thinks Xander is just trying to do too much with the pitches he’s seeing which is causing him to swing at the stuff he never would’ve in the past.

"“Right now, he’s off balance, chasing pitches,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “It’s one of those, you go through stretches like this during the season and it just happens it’s early in the season and it’s magnified.”"

Cora is right in his evaluation that Bogey is chasing some absolutely disgusting stuff. And I don’t mean that as a compliment to the pitchers. Some of his whiffs today were just nauseating and if he were dialed in, he would never even take the bat off his shoulder for those pitches. Whatever it is that’s going on with him though they need to figure it out and figure it out in a hurry.

For what it’s worth, I still believe that the Red Sox and Xander will come to terms on a new deal and he’ll spend his playing days in Boston. Hell, I have my Bogaerts jersey hanging in the closet right now and had it on at work for Opening Day. We’ve been on this ride with him since 2013 and have seen him go from being a kid with potential to the leader of one of the oldest franchises in the sport.

There’s plenty of money in the budget and with even more coming off the books this offseason a deal still feels inevitable to me. Too many in Red Sox Nation want to paint this as another Mookie Betts dilemma.

The thing is, Mookie made it clear he was always going to free agency while Xander has said the absolute opposite. He doesn’t want to leave, he doesn’t want the free agency headache, he just wants to be paid more fairly. He already took a homecooked deal, now it’s time for the top-tier menu.

"“I think he’s moving well at short,” Cora said. “Defensively, he’s moving well. Actually, I was having that conversation with Foxy (major league field coordinator Andy Fox). And he’s like, ‘You know what? He’s moving well at short.’ But offensively right now, he’s searching.”"

Again, on the Red Sox side of things they don’t believe it’s the hamstring or the contract negotiations but more just him trying to do too much with what he’s getting. For all we know, Xander could break out of his funk and be firing on all cylinders by the end of the weekend. But until then, his missing bat is a massive problem for Boston and they’re going to need a lot of guys to step up in his absence.

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