PHILADELPHIA — Xander Bogaerts must want to climb the ladder.
Red Sox manager John Farrell moved catcher Ryan Hanigan ahead of Bogaerts in Boston’s order the last two games following an 0-for-3 effort by the shortstop on Opening Day. The skipper’s reasoning?
“Guys are going to tell you where they’re going to hit in the lineup.” Farrell said before Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Well, based on that logic, Bogaerts might soon find himself again hitting ahead of Hanigan — and perhaps even others — because the 22-year-old broke out in a big way Thursday as the Red Sox defeated the Phillies 6-2 in the finale of the teams’ series-opening series.
“It’s looking like some of the work that he’s been doing extra with (hitting coach) Chili (Davis) and (assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez) is starting to get a little traction, and a good night for him,” Farrell said after Thursday’s win. “Hopefully it gives him a chance to breathe a little bit and it’s good to see him line some balls to different parts of the field.”
Bogaerts went 3-for-4 and reached base five times Thursday. He walked in the second inning, tripled up the right field line in the third, reached on a throwing error by shortstop Freddy Galvis in the fifth, singled into center in the seventh and singled into right in the ninth.
In other words, he sprayed the ball around as part of his productive night, which is an encouraging sign for someone with a minor league track record — and a major league track record, to some extent — of using all crevices of the yard.
“That’s a good sign,” Bogaerts said with regard to his opposite field single in the ninth. “I just know when I’m me and when I’m not me, so going the other way is a good sign.”
Of course, just as it would have been foolish to overreact to Bogaerts’ 1-for-7 stat line through the first two games, especially with him delivering an RBI single Wednesday, it would be equally as foolish to assume he’s now going to completely tear apart opposing pitchers. But Bogaerts’ solid night at the dish Thursday offered reasons for optimism beyond the box score.
“A little bit more balanced. A little bit more patient to get a pitch that he was able to handle,” Farrell said of Bogaerts’ performance. “It was a good night for him.”
Bogaerts’ third-inning triple was, by far, the biggest hit of the evening. He hit a blooper into right field with the bases loaded that scooted past Jeff Francoeur, allowing all three runners to score. The knock gave the Red Sox a commanding 5-0 lead, which was all the offense Boston needed on a night when starter Justin Masterson pitched very well.
“It just comes down to see the ball, hit the ball,” said Bogaerts, who admitted it usually takes him a bit to get his timing down early in the season. “I tried to simplify things as much as possible.”
Perhaps a simplistic approach is exactly what Boagerts needs. There’s no denying he has the talent to become a special major league hitter, and performances like Thursday’s remind everyone of that reality.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images