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Xander Bogaerts on D&C admits losing confidence last season: ‘This year is a new year, I feel much better’ 02.26.15 at 9:24 am ET
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Xander Bogaerts

Xander Bogaerts

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts checked in with Dennis & Callahan live from Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday morning to discuss the upcoming season and what he did in the offseason to try and bounce back from a difficult 2014 season. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Last season was a difficult year for Bogaerts, as in his first full season in the majors he hit .240 with an on-base percentage of .297. He struggled even more with runners in scoring position, hitting just .153 for the year. Bogaerts admitted he lost confidence during the year, but 2015 is a new season.

“Yeah, a little bit — going really bad for two months, I mean extremely bad,” Bogaerts said of losing confidence. “Trying to have confidence everyday coming to the park was pretty tough. This year is a new year, I feel much better. I feel much more confident in myself so, it’s something I definitely learned, no matter how tough the situation is it’s just keep your head up.”

Bogaerts switched positions a few times during the year — moving from shortstop to third base when the team signed Stephen Drew, and then back to shortstop once Drew was traded at the trade deadline. He said the changing positions had an effect on him mentally.

“Maybe it messed with me mentally a little bit, but I guess that was my fault being young and not understanding they really got him to help the team,” Bogaerts said. “We needed someone to come in and play either short or third because [Will] Middlebrooks was injured.”

The shortstop spent much of the winter in Arizona working out for roughly four hours a day. Focusing on building muscle was one of his major goals, as he said his body wore down last year.

“Really gained a lot of muscle,” said Bogaerts. “Trying to be fast, quick. Last year towards the All-Star game my body started wearing down and I think [that was why] I was struggling so much, I was mentally weak and it just dragged on me physically and stuff like that. It just went downhill from there. The All-Star break boosted me up a little but and then it went back down.”

The 22-year-old learned a lot from his first full season in the majors, but feels his experiences last year will only help him moving forward.

“It’s a really tough game,” said Bogaerts. “Especially in the Boston market — a lot of media attention, especially after winning the World Series, a lot of eyes were on us. I think this year will probably be the same because of all the new acquisitions that we have. You just have to have a lot of confidence in yourself. You go through your ups and downs. It’s definitely easy to lose your confidence.”

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Stephen Drew caught off guard by end-of-deadline trade to visiting Yankees 08.01.14 at 7:59 pm ET
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It was 3:50 p.m. Thursday, just 10 minutes before Major League Baseball‘s trade deadline, and Stephen Drew‘s phone had been quiet all day.

The shortstop was simply enjoying his off day. He brought his two kids to teammate Jon Lester‘s home while the pitcher was out attending a birthday party and was outside enjoying the summer weather while the kids were playing. At this point, the thought of being traded so late seemed improbable.

“To be honest, I wasn’t even monitoring it,” he said.

About five minutes later, Drew received a call. He had been traded to the Yankees for infielder Kelly Johnson. Drew was soon on his way to Fenway Park to clean out his locker.

Fortunately for Drew, the Yankees were coming to Boston Friday to begin a three-game series at Fenway. So his travels consisted of nothing more than moving his stuff from the Red Sox‘ clubhouse over to the visitor clubhouse on the other end of the park.

“It’s definitely different, over there just playing a game and then an off day and then the moves,” Drew said. “It comes with the business though. We all know that as players, we know that as our job.

“It is different walking across from the guys you were just playing with a day ago. Was over there with them, now I’m over here. I’m excited, it’s going to be a new challenge and I’m looking forward to it.”

Drew was a contributing member of the Sox’ 2013 World Series championship team, but wasn’t brought re-signed by the team until early May to add infield depth while rookie Xander Bogaerts was still acclimating to playing shortstop in the big leagues.  Read the rest of this entry »

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What the heck just happened? Red Sox trade deadline day first thoughts 07.31.14 at 6:33 pm ET
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As the names entered the rumor mill, the idea became more and more confusing. Sure, dealing away players who would reach free agency after this season for assets who would remain in Boston beyond 2014 made sense, but when the names expanded beyond the likes of Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes and Andrew Miller to include players like John Lackey who will be under team control (at least in theory) beyond the 2014 season, it became a bit harder to make sense of what the Red Sox hoped to accomplish.

Was the team considering taking a wrecking ball to its veteran core? Had it compromised the notion of building for April 2015?

“I think we have every intention of competing to contend next year,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said on Wednesday afternoon, prior to his team’s 6-1 loss to the Blue Jays. “That’s not to say that we’re not looking to win as many games as we can this year. You may be looking for a specific answer because the question mark remains, who are the players that come back for individual players that we have now? We don’t know that yet. But I would hope that the team that is built for 2015 isn’t just based on those who are brought back in trades by tomorrow at 4 o’clock. This is an ongoing process that we continue to build.”

As it turns out, while the work of the Red Sox‘ roster rebuild for 2015 does indeed remain incomplete, the team has already taken a number of steps forward in that regard. Here’s what happened over the roughly 25 hours leading up to the trade deadline in the aggregate: Read the rest of this entry »

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Why Stephen Drew doesn’t wear glasses anymore 07.22.14 at 7:47 pm ET
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TORONTO — Much was made after Game 6 of the World Series (besides the fact that Red Sox won a championship) regarding Stephen Drew using contact lenses for that final game of the season. He hit a home run, so that seemed like a logical explanation for the offensive slump he endured throughout the postseason.

So when Drew started out this season wearing glasses, it appeared a perfectly acceptable transition into a new look for the shortstop.

But during his recent upswing at the plate, Drew hasn’t been wearing those glasses. In fact, he hasn’t even been wearing contacts.

Here’s the deal …

A few weeks back Drew’s glasses were scratched so he went back to contacts. The problem was that after having Lasik eye surgery eight years ago, the contact lenses would dry out his eyes, creating further issues.

Finally, in the past few weeks, Drew has found a suitable solution.

As long as he keeps his eyes moist there really aren’t any eyesight issues to deal with, so before each at-bat he uses eye drops. As has been evident over the five games entering Tuesday night, with Drew hitting .412 (7-for-17) with a home run and five walks.

“I think Stephen Drew the last five or seven games is back to the level of production we anticipated,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell before Tuesday’s game at Rogers Centre. “He’s in a pretty good place right now.”

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Scott Boras on Red Sox as sellers, Xander Bogaerts, Stephen Drew, more 07.14.14 at 6:38 pm ET
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MINNEAPOLIS — Agent Scott Boras doesn’t foresee a Red Sox sell-off as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. After all, despite the fact that the Sox enter the All-Star break tied for the AL East basement with a 43-52 record, 9 1/2 games behind the division-leading Orioles, they reside in a division that is highly flawed.

“I think the Red Sox don’t feel they’re out of anything, at least the Red Sox dialogue that I have,” said Boras. “I think they fully feel that the elasticity of the AL East is a rubber band that can take off or hit you in the face. I don’t think anybody in that division is taking where they’re at for granted, and they know it’s highly likely that this thing could well be decided for a number of teams in the next six to seven days. I think they’ve given themselves a core, a base to take that on. They’re getting some health out of their starting pitching. And I just don’t think that the club is concerned with retooling for next year when they’re in the hunt this year.”

Of course, the Sox’ outlook might be considerably different if a pair of Boras clients on the left side of the infield — Xander Bogaerts and Stephen Drew — were not ensnared in deep struggles. Drew is hitting .151 with a .218 OBP and .269 slugging mark in 28 games since joining the Sox in June (after sitting out the season’s first two-plus months while in free agent purgatory following his decision to reject the Sox’ one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer).

Boras said that while Drew is still working to regain his timing at the plate, he expects the 31-year-old to return to his career track record of a .261 average, .326 OBP and .430 slugging mark.

“The Drews take pitches. The Drews work the counts,” Boras noted, alluding to Stephen Drew and his brother, J.D. Drew. “I think to get that acumen of being comfortable in the batter’s box, that kind of started to unfold a little bit in Houston. He’s a lifetime .270 hitter. That’s not going to go away. And he’s in the prime of his career. So, I’m not concerned about that.”

As for Bogaerts, he closed the first half in a 29-game tailspin that saw him hitting .103 with a .140 OBP, .131 slugging mark and one extra-base hit (a homer) with 32 strikeouts in 114 plate appearances, dropping his season line to .235/.311/.348. That struggle commenced roughly a week after Bogaerts moved from shortstop to third base to accommodate the return of Drew. But Boras denied that there was a causal link between the position change and the offensive struggle.

“That would be statistically undocumented because his great performance last year was at third base,” Boras said, referencing Bogaerts’ performance during the postseason as the team’s third baseman. “The biggest thing is the transition to the big leagues where everybody tests to see if you can hit the fastball. Also, you’re coming into the league and have a broad base of expectancy that you’re going to be successful, but you’ve got to learn how to hit the breaking balls. You’ve got to see breaking balls. And you’ve got to really see the slider. You’ve got to learn how to hit the slider your way. That takes time. It takes practice. And it takes him going through, because you don’t see those types of sliders in the minor leagues. You don’t see the type of velocity irregularity between a changeup and a fastball in the minor leagues, because the few that can do that are up here. So this is really, he has so few at-bats, he’s making that adjustment.

“I said it last year when he was doing well and I’ll say it now, he’s a generational player. He’s in that category of the [Mike Trouts] and the [Bryce Harpers] and the [Manny Machados]. Xander Bogaerts fits right into that group. He’s a great, great young player who showed on the most pressurized stage, the World Series stage, that he’s a baseball player of extraordinary skills. You have kids who are in junior college that are his age [while Bogaerts is] playing in the World Series and doing big things. He’s just that kind of guy.”

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Stephen Drew on two home run day: ‘It’s a good feeling’ 07.06.14 at 12:01 am ET
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Entering Saturday’€™s doubleheader against the Orioles, Stephen Drew was hitting just .136 with no homers and two RBI in 19 games this season. Following a two home run day between the two games of the doubleheader, the shortstop raised his average 15 points and took a big step in getting his offense back into gear after missing roughly the first two months of the season.

“It sure does,” manager John Farrell said of Drew’€™s day helping his confidence. “He’€™s been working at some things, trying to get some timing. Jumps in mid-stream — a difficult challenge to face. Good to see him get a couple of balls that he squares up to the pull side. It’€™s not been a lack of work, it’€™s not been a lack of effort by any means. Good to see him be in the mix here tonight and today.”

Drew took Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez into the Orioles bullpen in the second inning of Game 1, giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead at the time. His second homer of the day, coming in the fourth inning of Game 2 off Ubaldo Jimenez, sparked a four-run fourth inning for the Sox, as following a Mike Napoli walk to open the inning, Drew smashed one over the wall in right for a two-run shot.

Prior to Saturday, Drew’€™s last home run came in Game 6 of the World Series at Fenway Park and his last regular season home run was Sept. 19, 2013, also coming against the Orioles. The last Red Sox player to homer in both ends of a doubleheader was Jacoby Ellsbury twice in 2011 (Aug. 18 vs. Tampa Bay, Sept. 25 vs. Yankees).

“It’€™s good. Like I said, just it’€™s a work in progress and I am putting some good swings on pitches and I’€™m getting some results,” Drew said. “It’€™s a good feeling.”

After sitting out the first two months of the season not being signed by any team as a free agent and just 21 at-bats in the minors before joining the Red Sox, Drew knew it would take some time to get things going. After his play on Saturday, Drew feels like things are going in the right direction.

“Like I told you guys before, not being in this position before I knew it was going to be different going in not having a spring training,” he said. “Not making excuses, it’€™s definitely coming along and I am putting some good AB’€™s together. Hopefully this will start clicking shortly.”

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Red Sox baserunning woes persist as A.J. Pierzynski, Stephen Drew run into outs 07.02.14 at 12:17 am ET
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The Red Sox don’t have enough rallies to snuff them out through their own actions. After a 2-1 loss to the Cubs, the Sox rank 26th in the majors in average (.241), 13th in OBP (.319), 27th in slugging (.365), 23rd in OPS (.684) and 27th in the majors — and dead last in the AL — in runs per game (3.71). Those woeful numbers from the batter’s box make a couple of the team’s deficiencies — both of which were on display in Tuesday’s game — all the more glaring.

The Red Sox have taken a two-pronged approach to running into outs. While their rate of running into outs while taking an extra base has been roughly league average (the Sox have 28 such outs; the AL average entering Tuesday was 27), their masochistic tendencies have been particularly pronounced at second base. On Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski slammed a ball off the Wall in left and tried to advance to second. The carom was played cleanly by left fielder Chris Coghlan, who threw out Pierzynski by perhaps 30 feet at second, beating him by such a margin that Pierzynski did not bother to slider on the tag play. That marked the 13th time this year that a Sox runner has been thrown out at second (on a play other than a force or a caught stealing), tied for most in the American League.

“A.J. is trying to stretch a single into a double, probably a little over-aggressive on his part,” said Sox manager John Farrell. “Coghlan makes a good play off the wall and throws a strike into second base.”

“Trying to get in scoring position,” Pierzynski said brusquely. “That’s it.”

It marked the second time this year that Pierzynski has been thrown out at second — not even close to the team and American League leader in the category, Dustin Pedroia, who has been thrown out at second five times (most recently trying to stretch a single into a double on Saturday in New York). Pedroia is tied for fourth in the A.L. with six outs on the bases; Pierzynski has run into three outs, tied with Grady Sizemore and Jackie Bradley Jr. for second on the team. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stephen Drew collects 2 hits, feels healthy in return 06.16.14 at 6:17 am ET
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Stephen Drew wanted to be sure he felt right. He didn’t want the right oblique injury that had been healing over the last week to impact him at the plate, where he was already struggling, or at shortstop, where he’s most valuable. And most importantly, he didn’t want to risk worsening an injury he was unfamiliar with.

So he refused to rush it.

Drew spent the last week under supervision as he went through workouts and tested his oblique throughout the week.

“It’€™s just something where you just do checklists and going through whatever these guys have here,” he said. “Just going out there and making sure I’€™m able to go out and play a big league game. It took a little time.”

On Sunday, he was ready. And he made the most of his return.

Drew went 2 for 4 at the plate with a stolen base and strong infield play in the Red Sox‘ 3-2 loss to the Indians on Sunday. He had a pair of singles, and finished the game feeling healthy.

When asked how he felt after the game, Drew said, “Not too bad. Overall it was a good day. I’€™m still moving forward. Overall I was pretty pleased with it.”

Said manager John Farrell: “Physically, he came out of today fine. You see some consistent timing coming from him as he gets more at-bats, even with the full five days down here.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Red Sox expect ‘no limitations’ in Stephen Drew’s return Sunday 06.15.14 at 1:10 pm ET
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There was the potential for an MRI, a trip to the disabled list and even more missed time for Stephen Drew and his ailing right oblique, but those fears were put to rest Sunday as the Red Sox shortstop makes his return to the lineup in the series finale against the Indians.

Drew will start at short and bat eighth.

“He passed his tests as far as swinging the bat with increased intensity, all the defensive work that he’€™s gone through,” manager John Farrell said. “Never really reproduced the symptoms in the oblique, so he’€™s in there tonight.”

Drew hasn’t played since last Sunday after feeling his right oblique “grab” him in his final at-bat against the Tigers. He has spent the last week nursing the injury and gradually testing the oblique in batting practice and by fielding ground balls.

Given his unfamiliarity with the injury, Drew and the Red Sox took their time working him back into the lineup, but have seen progress over the last couple of days. He expected to play without any physical limitations.

“We hope not,” infield coach Brian Butterfield said. “They erred on the side of caution just because you need him for the long haul. He’€™s an important piece. But our doctors feel good about Stephen going full throttle.

Butterfield said that Drew has “no limitations.”

“Good to go, let your hair down,” he added.

Butterfield said the oblique is particularly tough to gauge because it’s necessary for both throwing and hitting. Drew still experienced tightness during the week, and given the need for range and mobility at shortstop, it was important to have him as close to 100 percent as possible.

“He’€™s a tough guy, so he should be able to play through a little bit of pain,” Butterfield said, later adding, “‘€œI think the demands at shortstop, where you have to torque your body and throw balls on the run. You’€™re fielding balls at a lot of different positions, you have a wide throwing area. It’€™s a little difficult on the body.”

Hitting coach Victor Rodriguez said Drew “looks more natural” swinging the bat than he did earlier in the week.

“A couple of days before I think he didn’€™t trust it. He didn’€™t feel like he was healthy and he wasn’€™t letting it go,” Rodriguez said. “Now it seems like the more he hits and the more velocity he saw, he’€™s feeling more comfortable. I see a natural swing.”

Drew’s injury last Sunday was a road block in what has been a long process of trying to catch up to the rest of the Major Leagues in terms of getting his timing down at the plate and establishing a rhythm of playing every day.

Sunday will be Drew’s fifth start since returning to the Red Sox June 2 in Cleveland. He’s hitting .188 in 14 at-bats, and has been held out of the lineup against left-handed starters and pinch-hit for against lefty relievers. Farrell said he’s been playing this season a step behind the rest of the Major League players who had a full spring training and have been playing since April.

“Well you don’€™t have the benefit of a gradual build up that spring training would provide,” Farrell said. “Not only is he coming back at full speed, but he’€™s now coming back to face pitching that’€™s got a full two and a half months under their belt. Command is more consistent than what we found in spring training.

“In other words, everyone was getting in shape at the same rate, same progression. Now to jump back in, to me it’€™s a bigger jump than just the time and games missed. There’€™s a more consistency that he’€™s facing than if he were getting his first at-bats back in April. So it’€™s further challenging to come back and produce at a further level than he would realize at the beginning of the season.”

Missing the last six games battling injury only disrupts that process.

“It’€™s a tough thing to do. He didn’€™t play, he has been training and now he has to face the best pitchers in the game,” Rodriguez said. “So he’€™s tough. Just to come up here and try to get ready up here, it’€™s going to take him time, it’€™s going to take him repetitions, it’€™s going to take him at-bats.”

Starting one’s season in June is unique in itself. Farrell said there’s no specific template to getting a player up to speed mid-season, and it can certainly have mixed results. While Drew has struggled in limited playing time, Farrell cited the way Minnesota’s Kendrys Morales has thrived since joining the Twins June 9. Morales is hitting .381/.435/.524 in 23 plate appearances at designated hitter.

“You plan to get some base built, or some foundation, but there’€™s really no template,” Farrell said. “[Morales] jumped right in and had multiple hits a game. That’€™s not to say that Stephen’€™s not capable of that, but at the same time Morales is DHing and Stephen’€™s a middle-of-the-diamond player. There’€™s not one exact way to get a guy ready for the season.”

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Red Sox pregame notes: Stephen Drew faces ‘biggest test’ in BP; Brock Holt starts in right field 06.14.14 at 2:56 pm ET
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It was going to be judgment day for Stephen Drew. That, however, will have to wait until Sunday.

The beleaguered Red Sox shortstop, who hasn’€™t appeared in a game since Sunday after suffering a right oblique injury, took part in batting practice before today’€™s game -€“ an important stepping stone in his eventual return to field.

After the Red Sox‘ 3-2 loss to the Indians, manager John Farrell said Drew would be available Sunday. The shortstop suggested the verdict regarding his availability would be determined after seeing how he feels prior to the series finale.

Speaking to the media after his afternoon workout session, Drew seemed encouraged, albeit vague, on the progress of his injury.

“€œIt’€™s alright, we’€™re still working through it. So far, it’€™s pretty good,” Drew said. “€œI’€™m still working through things, I’€™m going to test some other things out and go from there.”

Drew acknowledged that the BP session went as he thought it would, adding that his return is still a work in progress.

“€œI mean, I’€™ve never had this [injury], so I’€™m just trying to work through it like I said and see where we’€™re at and we got to do some more things and go through some tests, so we’€™ll see where we’€™re at at the end,”€ Drew said.

Drew added: “To start with, it wasn’€™t tolerable (when the injury first occurred). These extra days and stuff, it’€™s obviously I could swing a bat and stuff like that. Like I said, just working through things, trying to get at game speed and go from there.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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