Warsofsky to open season with Bruins

985191.jpg

Warsofsky to open season with Bruins

Throughout Bruins training camp all of the rookie chatter has been about 19-year-old defenseman Dougie Hamilton, but it looks like there will be another freshman blueliner when the NHL season opens on Saturday.

Former Boston University standout and Marshfield native David Warsofsky survived a round of Thursday camp cuts that saw fellow P-Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski get sent back to the AHL club. Veteran defenseman Aaron Johnson was also shipped to the AHL for a conditioning assignment after not playing for the last four months through the lockout.

So it appears the 5-foot-9, 170-pound Warsofsky has made the Bruins roster based on his puck-moving skill and the ideal in-game conditioning that had him ready to start the season.

Theres definitely a difference between being in shape and being in game shape, and having 30 games under my belt definitely helped me out, said Warsofsky, who was in his third season playing for the Providence Bruins. 

Players in Europe or at the AHL level had a distinct advantage over fellow skaters that have been gathering rust on the sidelines for the last four months, and Warsofsky impressed Bruins officials with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists) in 30 AHL games while logging heavy minutes lugging the puck for Providence.

Bruins coach Claude Julien indicated that it was a close competition between Warsofsky and Bartkowski before the latter was sent down to the P-Bruins to continue his work as a stay-at-home defenseman. 

There wasnt a big difference between the guys that went down and Warsofsky. Obviously with Johnson we need him to play some games before we can make an assessment on him, said Julien. David has played well, but so has Bartkowski. I can honestly say it could have gone either way.

Right now its a matter of keeping seven defensemen here and making sure that we have the guys in Providence available. Warsofsky isnt here by fluke. Hes had a great year and played well in Providence, and hes got a year under his belt so he knows how to handle himself against the professional competition. He played well against us in the Tuesday night scrimmage. He moves the puck well, is pretty smart with his decision-making and is quick and shifty on his skates with a good shot. Hes got a lot of skills.

For a kid that grew up a bona fide hockey fanatic on the South Shore of Boston in Marshfield, Warsofsky sounded pretty excited about suiting up for the Black and Gold as their extra defenseman.

Its definitely exciting for me growing up here and kind of cheering for the Bruins, so its definitely a dream come true. Im looking forward to the opportunity of being a part of it, said Warsofsky, who arrived in Boston in a draft-day deal with the St. Louis Blues for Vladimir Sobotka three years ago.

Dont be surprised if Warsofskys name pops up in trade rumors soon after his arrival on the Bruins scene, particularly if injuries along the blueline open up some playing time for him to showcase his abilities.

Across the league teams are looking for spare defensemen in deals, and going eight or nine deep on the blueline while planning on injuries taking a bite out of their organizational depth. So NHL-caliber defensemen have rising value on a developing trade market, and Warsofsky might be better served on an NHL team where some open roster spots are up for grabs.

Either way he's getting his shot to establish himself in the NHL, and that's also a local hockey product could ask for.

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

red-sox-xander-bogaerts.jpg

Bogaerts' "maturity is clearly taking hold"

NEW YORK -- Xander Bogaerts enjoyed a terrific 2015, his second full season in the big leagues.

He finished second in the American League batting race, established himself as a solid defender at short and generally showed immense promise.

The only thing he didn't do was show much home run power, limited to just seven homers.

This past spring, both manager John Farrell and Chili Davis expressed confidence that the home runs would come, and that they would come organically.

And so they have. In Thursday night's loss to the New York Yankees, a solo homer in the fifth by Bogaerts represented the only Red Sox run of the night in a 5-1 loss. It also gave Bogaerts 21 homers for the year, exactly triple his output from a year ago.

"The maturity is clearly taking hold," said John Farrell of Bogaerts' growth. "You start to get a couple thousand at-bats at the major league level, you're starting to understand your swing, you're picking out certain counts in which to leverage a little bit more. He's been able to do that.

"Home runs are up across the board. But with Xander in particular, he's physically maturing and he's maturing as a major league player as well."

Bogaerts took the advise of Davis and others and didn't set out to try to hit more homers this year. He knew they would come in time.

"Maybe not this quick," he said of the big increase, "but probably in the future, yeah. That's what I did in the minor leagues, so it's kind of something that I thought might translate to the big leagues, too."

Bogaerts is hard-pressed to put his finger on any on factor to explain the big uptick. After all, he didn't change his swing or his stance.

Rather, the homers came as a result of him understanding himself better as a hitter and consistently taking the right approach at the plate.

"It's just (a matter of) taking good swings in good counts," he offered. "Sometimes, you're looking for one. But overall, it's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose."

It hasn't hurt that he's surrounded by quality hitters in the Red Sox lineup, with Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia ahead of him earlier in the year, and now Pedrioa ahead of him and David Ortiz behind him.

In addition to seeing better pitches because of who's surrounding him, Bogaerts has also benefitted from listening to Ortiz, who watches his at-bats and offers advice when called for.

Still, most of the credit belongs to Bogaerts himself, who has grown into his power naturally -- just as his manager and hitting coach forecast.

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

red-sox-david-ortiz-yankees.jpg

Quotes, notes and stars: "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving"

NEW YORK -- Quotes, Notes and Stars from the Red Sox' 5-1 loss to the Yankees:

QUOTES

* "It seems like everybody was happy that I'm leaving." David Ortiz, unaccustomed to ovations and cheering at Yankee Stadium.

* "I thought he threw a high number of strikes. There was good swing-and-miss to his changeup and he took the opportunity and showed well." John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "It's just taking good swings in good counts. It's just being a more mature hitter and looking for the right spots to pick and choose." Xander Bogaerts, who has tripled his homer output since last year.

NOTES:

* With his fourth-inning homer, Xander Bogaerts tripled his home run total from last year, improving from seven to 21.

* The season series between the Red Sox and Yankees ended with the Sox winning 11 of the 18 games.

* The Boston bullpen has given up eight runs in the last two nights after allowing only seven this month before Wednesday night.

* The Sox suffered only their second sweep of the season. They were also swept by the Tigers in July.

* Jackie Bradley Jr. has reached base safely in his last 13 games.

* Junichi Tazawa has contributed seven straight scoreless outings.

* Robbie Ross Jr. allowed a season-high three walks -- all in the same inning.

* Henry Owens has a career ERA of 8.53 against the Yankees.

* David Ortiz went hitless (0-for-11) in his final series at Yankee Stadium.

STARS:

1) CC Sabathia

Sabathia turned back the clock and looked like a far younger version of himself, pitching into the eighth and allowed just a run on four hits while striking out eighth.

2) Jacoby Ellsbury

Ellsbury had a hand in the first Yankee run -- walk, stolen base, run scored -- and doubled home the second run in the fifth inning.

3) Xander Bogaerts

The Sox had little offense on the night, but Bogaerts smoked a solo homer in the fourth to account for their only run.