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Xander Bogaerts on confusion about outs: ‘That’s terrible’

07.27.14 at 12:37 pm ET
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On a night of offensive futility, it was the moment that reverberated.

Xander Bogaerts stepped to the plate in the top of the sixth inning on Saturday night against Rays reliever Grant Balfour. At a time when the Red Sox trailed, 2-0, Bogaerts had an opportunity to alter the contest, with runners on first and third and one out.

And so, when Bogaerts took a fastball for a called third strike, the moment was disheartening enough for the young player. But then it became embarrassing.

Bogaerts placed his helmet and bat on the dirt next to the batter’s box and removed his batting gloves, as if the inning was over. He thought that he had recorded the third out of the inning instead of the second.

“It’s something that shouldn’t happen again,” said Bogaerts. “I went up there, double-checked with [Rays catcher Jose Molina], asked him, ‘Two outs,’ and he was like, ‘Yeah, two outs.’ That’s what I heard. I could have heard wrong, too. But that’s what I heard. If I got it wrong, that’s terrible. It’s something that shouldn’t happen again.”

Bogaerts said it wouldn’t have altered his offensive approach had he known that he was hitting with one out — in which an out could have still meant a run — rather than two. He would have looked to accomplish the same thing against Balfour regardless of the number of outs, hoping to go up the middle.

Yet to Sox officials, the fact that Bogaerts lost sight of the game situation represented an indicator of a player who may be struggling to stay afloat as he tries to swim through frustrations that he’s never before encountered. As such, that misstep — the culmination of mind-blowing struggles — convinced the Sox to give the 21-year-old a day off in the series finale on Sunday.

Bogaerts did collect a hit on Saturday, but that was the only time he put a ball in play while going 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. While he’s shown recent glimpses of emerging from the offensive funk that has consumed him since early June, those have been unsustained, with Bogaerts now hitting .237/.309/.352 this season. That includes a 40-game run since June 5 in which Bogaerts is hitting .146/.181/.199 with six walks, 42 strikeouts and four extra-base hits in 160 plate appearances.

“I think yesterday was probably one of the first times, one of the few times we’ve seen him where the game situation, or what was unfolding inside it, maybe caused a little bit of a distraction to him. So, felt like today was a good day to give him a little bit of a breather,” said Sox manager John Farrell in explaining why the Sox have Brock Holt at third and Bogaerts on the bench against Rays right-hander Chris Archer. “As we’ve done of late, there’s been times when we’ve given him a little bit of a blow, just trying to stay with the pace of things as we get a little bit deeper into the season.”

Of the recent glimpses of progress — such as a homer in the first game after the All-Star break or a three-hit game against the Blue Jays last week that have quickly yielded to struggles — Farrell acknowledged the fitful nature of Bogaerts’ performance.

“Trying to keep some momentum going with the adjustments he’s continuing to work on daily,” the manager said. “We’ve seen it gain a little traction inside of a given game, but occasionally there’s some reversion back to him being a little bit quick to the front side — some of the same challenges that he’s been facing for some time now.”

The failure to remember the number of outs offered the Sox something of a red flag regarding Bogaerts’ state of mind on Saturday. Bogaerts, however, rejected the notion that the misstep represented a more profound struggle to deal with the frustrations of the most sustained slump of his life.

“It had nothing to do with frustrations. I went up there and I heard there were two outs. I just went up there and wanted to put up a good at-bat,” said Bogaerts. “I wish I didn’t do it, because it didn’t look good, but I’m not the first and won’t be the last to do it.”

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