Red Sox exercise '12 option on SS Scutaro

570846.jpg

Red Sox exercise '12 option on SS Scutaro

Marco Scutaro got a nice birthday present today, as the Red Sox exercised his 2012 contract option, worth 6 million.

Scutaro hit a career-best .299 (118-for-395), the second-highest mark among American League shortstops with at least 400 plate appearances. He also set a career high with a .423 slugging percentage in 113 games.

Scutaro finished the season with 59 runs, 54 RBI, and seven home runs. He walked 38 times as well. While the Red Sox were in the midst of a historic September collapse, Scutaro had by far his best month of the season. In September, Scutaro hit a whopping .387 (36-93) with 28 runs, 21 RBI, 12 doubles, and two home runs. His on-base percentage was .438 and slugging percentage .581.

Statistically speaking, it was the best season for a Red Sox shortstop since Nomar Garciaparra in 2003.

In 263 games with the Red Sox since he signed with the club as a free agent on December 4, 2009, Scutaro has batted .284 (292-for-1,027) with 64 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, 110 RBI, 151 runs and 91 walks.

Scutaro got to the majors late, breaking in with the Mets at age 26 in 2002 and spending two years there as a utility infielder. He was claimed off waivers by the A's after the 2003 season and spent four productive years in Oakland, bouncing around the infield and outfield and hitting around .260 each season.

He finally became a regular in 2008 after being traded to Toronto. He played 145 games at various positions in '08, but spent '09 as the Blue Jays' regular shortstop and hit .282 with 35 doubles, 12 homers and 60 RBI. He was rewarded at the end of that season with a free-agent contract from the Red Sox.

Exercising the option of Scutaro is the first major roster move made by new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington. Eight members of the 2011 Red Sox team have filed for free agency, so Cherington has many more decisions to make regarding the team make-up.

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.