FORT MYERS, Fla. — Xander Bogaerts lived in Aruba, not under a rock.
Bogaerts, despite growing up roughly 2,000 miles from Fenway Park, was well-aware of the intense rivalry that exists between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees long before signing with Boston as an international free agent in 2009. That awareness led to a ?wow? moment for Bogaerts when the Red Sox shortstop finally broke into the majors in 2013.
?Yankee Stadium, I would say,? Bogaerts said Friday of the moment he realized his baseball dreams had come true. ?It wasn?t the World Series. Yankee Stadium. Just walking into the stadium after watching all the games the Yankees played against the Red Sox and stuff like that (while) growing up. The home run Aaron Boone hit off Tim Wakefield (in the 2003 ALCS). Those kinds of things. When you?re playing against that team, it?s really special.?
Bogaerts walked onto the Yankee Stadium field — the new version, of course — donning a Red Sox uniform for the first time on Sept. 6, 2013, one day before the 21-year-old officially stamped his big league arrival with a mammoth home run over the left field bullpens. It was at that point Bogaerts knew his major league career was prepared for liftoff, though the young Aruban admits he still has some catching up to do when it comes to learning the history of the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
?It?s something I definitely have to do more studying (on),? Bogaerts said. ?As I said, this is my first year, (but) I definitely do know those two teams (pretty well).?
Bogaerts, who rattled off names like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek on Friday while casually discussing the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, said he doesn?t have any hatred for the boys in pinstripes. It doesn?t mean he?s not looking to make life difficult for them, though.
?I just try to go out there and beat them every time I play them,? Bogaerts said. ?That?s all I try to do.?
As for when Bogaerts will cement his name alongside those great players he mentioned, the prized prospect played things even more modestly.