BOSTON — Before they begin their quest for a World Series title in 2017, a few Boston Red Sox players have their sights set on a different championship.
Shortstop Xander Bogaerts confirmed Thursday he’ll suit up for the Netherlands in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, which begins March 6 and runs through March 22. First baseman Hanley Ramirez also is expected to play for the Dominican Republic.
There’s a chance third baseman Pablo Sandoval will play for Venezuela and reliever Craig Kimbrel will pitch for Team USA, but Red Sox manager John Farrell believes Sandoval’s participation is unlikely as he aims for a bounce-back season.
“It’ll probably garner more discussion because I think the potential of three full weeks in a situation where you’re competing for a job is important,” Farrell said Thursday ahead of a writers’ awards dinner. “We don’t want to stand in the player’s way if there’s not a pending health situation, but again, he went through a shoulder surgery last May.”
Farrell confirmed none of his starting pitchers are likely to play in the WBC. That includes left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who tweaked his knee in December while playing winter ball in his native Venezuela.
“Given what transpired in the last start in Venezuela, we would likely hold him out until we determine he’s physically no issues and no questions about his knee,” Farrell said of Rodriguez.
Bogaerts and Ramirez, meanwhile, likely will play significant roles for their respective countries. Ramirez figures to be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Dominican Republic, which won the last WBC in 2013. The Dutch are loaded at shortstop with the likes of Bogaerts, Didi Gregorious and Andrelton Simmons on their roster, but Bogaerts said Thursday he wouldn’t mind shifting to third base, where he played for parts of the 2013 and 2014 seasons in Boston.
Apparently the Aruba native, who played in the 2013 WBC as a rookie, also sees some superstitious value in playing third base for the Netherlands.
“I mean, we won the World Series in 2013, and I played third base (at the WBC),” Bogaerts told reporters Thursday. “So I might give it a shot again. Let’s see if it can happen again.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images