Dustin Pedroia has had about 45,000 different double play partners in his nine years with the Boston Red Sox. The prospect of continuity sure sounds appealing.
Pedroia, who has worked extensively with shortstop Xander Bogaerts this spring, has noticed major improvements in the 22-year-old’s game. Bogaerts flashed his potential Thursday by launching a mammoth home run to straightaway center field and making a diving stop on a ball hit up the middle.
“He looked great,”Pedroia told reporters after Thursday’s Grapefruit League loss to the Minnesota Twins. “He looks strong. Every day, he’s working at short, working on his defense, trying to get better there. He’s going to be fun to watch. He’s working his butt off, trying to do a lot of things to get better.”
Bogaerts, who trained at EXOS performance institute in Phoenix over the offseason, also worked out with Pedroia at the second baseman’s nearby Arizona home. The two hit together and spent time talking, according to Pedroia, and the experience could prove invaluable as Bogaerts embarks on his second full major league season.
Bogaerts started and finished strong offensively last season, but he also endured a brutal three-month stretch from June through August that raised questions about the young infielder’s mental toughness. He appears to be in great shape this spring, however, and his work ethic could lead to continued development.
“The play he made up the middle, his first step, usually he dives and he hits the grass. He was on the dirt and grass so it’s almost there,” Pedroia said. “If he dives and catches that ball on the dirt, his hand’s not wet and he can throw it to (first baseman Mike Napoli’s) chest. It was a great play. Those are the things he’s working on and it’s starting to show.
“That’s all infield play is. It’s just angle, first step, eliminating movements that shouldn’t be there. He’s getting better at it.”
It’s important to remember that Bogaerts still is very young. There were growing pains last season and there inevitably will be a few more hiccups in 2015. The current outlook is encouraging, though.
Pedroia can attest to that.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images