FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Following the Red Sox Grapefruit League opener, Xander Bogaerts will take a long, long plane ride -- and an adventure.
Bogaerts is set to fly Saturday night from southwest Florida to New York, where he'll then take a connecting flight to Taiwan, where the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic is assembling.
Bogaerts, a native of Aruba, is shifting to third base for the WBC, moving over from his natural shortstop position.
"I'm excited to be part of the team,'' said Bogaerts. "I'll get to meet the guys again. I had a long time without seeing some of them, so it’ll be fun to be playing back with them. (I'm looking forward to) just being with all the guys that I grew up playing with or playing against. That’ll make it exciting.''
But the trip is not without its drawbacks. Just as the Red Sox begin playing exhibition games in this, Bogaerts' first major league spring training, he's leaving.
"Yeah, that's what makes this kind of tough,'' said Bogaerts."This is my first big league spring training and it would be nice if I could stay around the big league guys but it’s also a good experience to go there and play in the World Baseball Classic. So I’m excited.''
Manager John Farrell said there positives from taking part, too, including the level of competition and the big-league atmosphere.
"Anytime a young player can get in front of 30-, 40-, 50,000 people,'' said Farrell, "that's a first they can experience before they get to the big leagues. And depending on how far they go in their respective brackets, he'll come up against pitching thathe hasn't seen at the minor league level yet.''
Bogaerts estimated that the biggest crowd he's ever played in front of was "maybe 10,000, maybe more. But I heard it’s going to be a lot of people, especially in Taiwan. So, it’s going to be crazy. I’m looking forward to it, though.''
While Bogaerts is halfway around the world, the Red Sox will have only so much input into his schedule in the tournament.
"I don't know that we have a whole lot of control over it,'' said Farrell. "He's obviously well-known in our organizaiotn. I think there's more of a tradeoff going and experiencing those settings and the experience he can draw from that -- and I'm certainly not downplaying the importance of our own organization and our ballpark and playing against big leagues can give. But that's a pretty unique setting. It's an honor to representative for their respective countries.
"I'm sure he'll make the most of it.''