Xander Bogaerts believes playing in the World Baseball Classic could once again be a good omen for Red Sox
|02.15.17 at 10:50 am ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — On the surface, Xander Bogaerts’ decision to play in the World Baseball Classic appears questionable.
Bogaerts began wearing down towards the end of the first half last year and never stopped. His OPS dropped over 130 points from the first half (.863) to the second (.729), and he ended the year on fumes, hitting just .230 after Aug. 1 while playing a career-high 157 games.
So why travel halfway around the world to Korea to play for the Netherlands in the first round of the WBC next month? Because last time it worked out pretty well for Bogaerts and the Red Sox.
“Probably the main reason is in 2013, we won it all,” Bogaerts said of the surprising World Series title that ended that season. “I went there and I played. Hopefully we can have the same results this year. Those guys I grew up playing with, playing against all the time now, because I’m from Aruba, they’re from Curacao, we always used to play against each other. This is a chance I could play with them now on a team and hopefully make it far for our country.”
Bogaerts was just a kid in 2013 and the WBC opened his eyes.
“It helped me, to be honest, in 2013 because I never played in a big crowd,” he said. “I remember playing in Japan in the Tokyo Dome. It was so packed. You could barely hear the guy next to you because all the fans were so loud, especially when you are playing the home team. It’s going to help you because of that crowd, the way you can learn how to dominate it or play through it, it will help you.”
Bogaerts also believes playing competitively early in camp could help him lock in his swing. He expects to leave Red Sox camp in about two weeks.
“I mean, I always have issues with my timing, regardless of whether I stay here or go there,” he said. “I always have a time before I get going. That’s always the way I’ve been. I tend not to stress too much on that because I kind of know myself by now. I think to get going quicker this year would definitely help us reach pretty far over there.”
With David Ortiz gone, Bogaerts said his goal is to steal more bases. As for the team, it’s no surprise that he hopes to surpass last year’s first-round playoff ouster.
“[Management] want us to go out there and be the best,” he said. “They want us always to have a chance in our division, go on, and go deep into the playoffs. Winning is always No. 1 here. That’s always how it’s been since I’ve been in this organization.
“Reaching [the playoffs] is not even easy. There are a lot of good teams out there. It’s not something easy to do, or something you can do annually. I mean, the Patriots do it, but they’re football. I’m just going to go out there and compete and trust ourselves and our coaching staff and the guys that are in here and enjoy the moment, because it doesn’t come often.”
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