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BOSTON (CBS) – As the Boston Red Sox took on the New York Yankees Sunday night at Fenway, Xander Bogaerts was with his Pawtucket teammates enjoying a game of dominoes.
Then, his phone rang. It was the call, telling the 20-year-old he was heading to the Major Leagues. Just a few hours later, a surprised Bogaerts was boarding a plane with his new teammates for San Francisco, joining the major league Sox for their six-game West Coast swing.
Bogaerts did not play in Monday night’s 7-0 win over the Giants, but manager John Farrell said on MLB Network Radio Tuesday afternoon that Boston’s top prospect would be making his debut, playing shortstop tonight in San Francisco.
John Farrell: "Xander Bogaerts will be in the lineup tonight for Stephen Drew"—
MLB Network Radio (@MLBNetworkRadio) August 20, 2013
Bogaerts made it clear Monday that he will be ready to contribute in whatever way the Red Sox ask.
“I’m very excited to be here and be part of the team right now,” Bogaerts said Monday. “From when you sign this is what you work hard to become – a major league player. This is a big day for me and my family, and everyone back home.”
“I’m just here to do whatever the Red Sox organization and manager want me to do. I’m here to play and win games,” he said. “Whatever they ask me to do I’m ready for it. Hopefully we win a few games and we clinch the division.”
Gresh & Zo: Let Bogaerts Play!
Bogaerts has made his way through the Boston system this season, splitting time between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket. In 60 games with the PawSox, the shortstop hit .284 with nine home runs and 28 RBIs.
“We’re talking about a young, exciting offensive player,” said Farrell. “Really a very good player all-around at 20 years of age who is still developing. But we feel like he as a person and his abilities will give us a shot in the arm and make an impact here.”
Farrell said that Bogaerts will rotate on the left side of the infield, seeing action at both his natural position of shortstop and also at third base. Bogaerts played 10 games at third in Pawtucket, but started his season off playing third base for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic.
“It’ll be at both, but I can’t say it’s going to be 50-50,” said Farrell. “I don’t want to say there’s going to be 2-4 days a week. That’s not what this is. Will Middlebrooks has done an excellent job since coming back to us… We feel like Xander’s presence can help us go up against some good left-handed starters.”
“We’ll look to find the best matchups, and find a day Stephen (Drew) might need off his feet,” added Farrell.
Bogaerts hit .298 against lefties with an OBP of .452 while in Pawtucket.
Plenty of out-of-this-world and hype come with being a top-prospect for any team in the majors, but Farrell isn’t concerned about all of that getting to Bogaerts. He thinks Bogaerts’ experience at the WBC will help when it comes to breaking into the majors, and he’s excited to have a front-row seat for it all.
“Any time a player comes to the big leagues for the first time you share in that excitement with him. Rightfully so there will be a lot of anxiety and butterflies for him, but hopefully we can get him flying in formation and he’ll be off and running soon,” said Farrell.
“If you start thinking about those things that’s when the pressure hits you,” said Bogaerts. “You’ll go insane. I try not to think about that stuff and just try to concentrate on baseball.”
As for the rookies’ first major league at-bat, he’s not going to be looking to crush the first pitch he sees.
“I’ll probably try to get a walk, be as patient as possible,” he said with a smile. “Try not to be too aggressive. I just want to enjoy the time.”