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Red Sox pregame notes: Xander Bogaerts’ ‘invaluable’ time with Red Sox; Will Middlebrooks sick; callups can wait

09.15.13 at 9:03 pm ET
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Xander Bogaerts is making his second start in as many days on Sunday. (AP)

Xander Bogaerts is making his second start in as many days on Sunday. (AP)

The on-field opportunities for Xander Bogaerts have been limited. But that has not diminished the impact of his time in the big leagues.

The Red Sox called up the 20-year-old last month because they wanted an impact player — preferably a right-handed one — who could offer depth on the left side of the infield. Based on his performance in Pawtucket, the superprospect clearly represented that.

But while he’s played in just 13 games (including Sunday night, in which he’s starting at third for Will Middlebrooks), thus limiting his on-field training for a future in the big leagues, Bogaerts has been able to make — and receive — an impression both on and off the field.

“He’s a very graceful defender. Right now, he looks more comfortable at short than he would at third, which you’d expect because of the number of games played there. But he’s blended in well. He’s been all eyes and ears. He asks great questions,” said manager John Farrell. “This has been invaluable, the time that he’s been here so far. He’s got a bright future.”

That thought from Farrell reflects on Bogaerts’ determination to do just that, and the process he follows in pursuit of that goal. Bogaerts acknowledged recently that he’s “trying really hard to be something great,” and the way in which he’s going about training for a future big league role underscores that commitment.

“I think the individual person is going to take advantage of that more than others,” said Farrell. “He’s a smart kid. He’s very respectful, and I mean that in a good way. He doesn’t come across as he knows it all. He’s all eyes and ears. … His comment of wanting to be great, that’s what you hope every young player aspires to. That means he’s going to put in the work, make the sacrifices that we talked about with Mariano [Rivera]. Whether he achieves that status, who knows? But he’s wanting to put forth that effort.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– The season is now over for Triple-A Pawtucket after the PawSox fell in the Governor’s Cup to Durham, but the Red Sox will hold off on any call-ups — Farrell suggested that there would be “a couple guys joining” the big league roster — until after Monday’s off-day. Interestingly, the Red Sox do plan on bringing some pitchers to Boston without adding them to the roster and exposing them to the big league environment. (Right-handers Matt Barnes and Anthony Ranaudo, both of whom seem likely to represent big league rotation depth options in 2014, would seem like obvious candidates as players who are not yet on the 40-man roster and who have assumed a full year’s worth of innings.)

As such, the Sox plan on having PawSox pitching coach Rich Sauveur join the team for a few days on Tuesday, after which he will depart and Pawtucket manager Gary DiSarcina will join the coaching staff.

Will Middlebrooks‘ absence from the lineup, Farrell said, is a function not of his 0-for-17 slump, but instead the fact that he is one of several Sox players in the throes of the grippe.

 

Jarrod Saltalamacchia has been subject to considerable praise of late for his two-way impact on the Red Sox. In adding to the chorus, Farrell offered interesting perspective on one category that he considered particularly noteworthy in terms of explaining his offensive strides.

“We’re watching a guy start to come into his own as both an offensive and defensive player. He’s certainly gained confidence throughout the course of the year. Just inside this year, which I can speak more directly to, his game-calling and executing a game plan has really taken a step forward, more specifically to the reading of swings and pitch selection that might follow. And he’s more of a complete hitter,” said Farrell. “Doubles reflect a more complete hitter than a home-run total, and to see where he’s reversed that, where he might have had twice as many home runs as doubles last year, it’s the reverse of that this year, and to me, that’s hitting to the situation or what a pitcher is trying to do to him rather than looking to be one-dimensional and looking to hit the ball consistently.”

Saltalamacchia had 25 homers and 17 doubles along with a .222/.288/.454 line in 2012; in 2013, he’s hitting .263/.334/.454 with 13 homers and 36 doubles.

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