Bogaerts happy to be back with Red Sox after WBC

Bogaerts happy to be back with Red Sox after WBC
March 20, 2013, 1:00 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. – Xander Bogaerts was back in the Red Sox clubhouse Wednesday morning after being gone for nearly a month, while playing in the World Baseball Classic for Team Netherlands.
 
Sitting in a folding chair in front of his locker at the end of the clubhouse, Bogaerts, one of the Sox’ top prospects, was a mix of weary and happy.   
 
“Awesome. A great experience,”  he said with a smile. “I didn’t know it was that big. For me, it was really big because I [have] never been in the big leagues. So that was really awesome, on a really big stage, a lot of fans almost every day. So it was really, really special for me.”
 
Playing third base and serving as the designated hitter, Bogaerts appeared in seven games, batting .263, going 5-for-19 with two doubles, a run scored, an RBI, three walks, and three strikeouts. Advancing to the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual WBC champions, the Dominican Republic, Netherlands went 4-4 overall.
 
“Just playing against the best players from around the world,” he said, of what meant the most to him. “Seeing the talent that is all over the world."
 
“Hey, the Netherlands lost, but no one expected us to be there in the first place. We almost beat the Dominican. We were up 1-0, but we couldn’t keep it.”
 
The native of Aruba, who turned 20 in October,  joined the Red Sox as an international free agent in August 2009. The best part of the tournament, for him, was getting to know one of his WBC teammates.
 
“I would say Andruw Jones,” he said. “You see him play all the time, he’s a home-grown kid. To be with him always and to be hanging around with him, that was awesome.  I didn’t know him personally before, but it was great to get to know him.”
 
Despite his team’s loss in the semi-finals, Bogaerts was not disappointed.
 
“No, because no one expected us to get that far,” he said. “I guess we were kind of the underdogs. So it was great to reach at least the semifinals. Out of 16 teams, we made it to the top four. So that was awesome.”
 
Playing third base was a learning experience for him.  Since joining the Red Sox, he has played only shortstop in regular season games.  Before leaving camp,  Bogaerts appeared in two games at third for the Sox.
 
“Not  normal, I would say,” was Bogaerts’ assessment of playing third. “It’s not my normal position. But I’m an infielder. So I guess I just made a little adjustment. But it was OK."
 
“It’s different, because shortstop you have more time, and third base the ball just oomph, it gets to you quick. That’s the only difference that I saw. Shortstop is better, you have more time.”
 
Having even just a few innings under his belt in camp helped before he had to play a new position on a world stage.
 
“Definitely,” he said. “I wouldn’t imagine going there and just starting to play third base over there. It was really good to get in at third base here, get the basics, and just move on from there.”
 
And while he knows that playing third in the WBC has fueled some speculation that he may eventually have to make that change permanently, that’s not his perspective.
 
“No, not the way I see it,” he said. “I’m a shortstop now. So just keep working out and getting better defensively.”
 
And, for now, that is not an issue. Manager John Farrell said the team sees Bogaerts as a shortstop. Asked if he was satisfied with the amount of work Bogaerts got in the WBC, though, Farrell replied:
 
"I think the experience that he had with the WBC is all positive. Would we have liked more at-bats? Sure. But I think the fact that he played on the environment and on that stage outweighs a few less at-bats he otherwise would have had here."
     
"All that being said, we're happy for the experience that he went through." 
Bogaerts expects to get into a minor league game Wednesday afternoon at the Sox complex before getting back into Grapefruit League games. He admits he’s tired after the last month. He left camp on Feb. 23, traveled to Taiwan where the Netherlands worked out before beginning tournament play, moving on to  Tokyo for the next round, then on to Arizona for workouts and some exhibition games, and finally to San Francisco for the semi-finals.
 
“Yeah, I’m a bit tired now,” he said. “Traveling so much, the time difference. That was the only bad thing, I would say.”
 
He arrived back in Fort Myers late Tuesday night. Too late to see the Dominican beat Puerto Rico for the Championship.
 
But, he is happy to be back.
 
“It seemed like I was gone a long time,” he said. “I’m excited to be back.”

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