The New England Patriots can only hope to return from Arizona half as pleased as Boston Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts worked out this offseason at the EXOS performance institute in Phoenix (the host city of Super Bowl XLIX) in the hopes of hitting the ground running in 2015. The 22-year-old is confident his new offseason regimen will allow him to take the next step, both offensively and defensively, after an up-and-down rookie campaign.
“I kind of never challenged my body to lift heavier weights because I’ve always tried to kind of maintain the same,” Bogaerts said Saturday at the Red Sox’s Baseball Winter Weekend event at Foxwoods Resort Casino. “Getting the knowledge from those kinds of guys and just trusting the whole system that they have over there and just pushing your body, it’s really a difference than any years I’ve had in the past.”
Bogaerts also visited teammate Dustin Pedroia, who resides in Arizona, during his trip out West. The two hit together and spent a couple of hours chatting, according to Pedroia. They plan to hook up again when Bogaerts returns to Arizona in February just before spring training.
Shortstop, of course, has been a revolving door for the Red Sox in recent years, so much so that Pedroia joked to Bogaerts that he’ll play the position if things continue down the current path. Bogaerts has tremendous upside, though. He could finally solidify the spot and give Pedroia a consistent double-play partner.
“That definitely should help a lot. A few weeks over there (in Arizona) with (Pedroia) and also with the new hitting coach Chili (Davis),” Bogaerts said. “Just working out there and trying to get a feel. I already played with Pedroia short and second, so I kind of know what he likes and stuff like that. Being there and getting a lot of tips and advice from him will definitely help.”
Bogaerts did more than just lift weights while working out at EXOS, though much of his regimen was geared toward improving his power and speed. He expects to see differences in all facets of his game upon arriving in Fort Myers.
“This is probably the strongest I’ve ever felt going into a season. And by far,” Bogaerts said. “I’m definitely real excited for the season. Also with the new additions that we have to our lineup and our pitching staff, it should be a lot of fun.”
Bogaerts struggled for much of last season. He hit .161 (40-for-248) from July through August before coming into his own down the stretch. Growing pains are part of baseball, but Bogaerts’ woes certainly were more pronounced than most expected.
“You just need to have confidence. That’s one thing I definitely learned,” Bogaerts said. “Keep your body strong, try to see it’s a long season. Halfway towards the end I just felt like my body was giving up. Definitely feel a lot more strong (now), that’s for sure.”
It’s a new year, a new team and a new Bogey.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images