Passion to accomplish more fuels Bogaerts

Now the longest-tenured Red Sox, shortstop sets right example for everyone

February 22nd, 2021

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Remember when came to camp as the 20-year-old kid eight seasons ago looking to make a name for himself?

Here we are, all these years later, and the 28-year-old veteran is so firmly entrenched in all-things Red Sox that he is the team's longest-tenured player.

Time goes by fast, as the many veterans on the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox warned him it would back on that August day in San Francisco when he arrived just in time for the pennant race.

"I know when I came here I was a young kid in 2013, and in the big leagues," said Bogaerts. "And a lot of veteran guys who were on the team were like, 'Hey, this is gonna come by quick and it's gonna go quick, you know, so enjoy every moment that you get out of it.' And, I mean, I'm already eight years into the big leagues and it's kind of crazy to think how time flies that quick."

Though so much has happened for him already, including two World Series rings and a long list of individual accomplishments, Bogaerts should have plenty of moments left in his career.

As rare as it is for a 28-year-old to have the most tenure on a team like the Red Sox, Bogaerts -- backed by his impressive consistency on and off the field -- is the perfect man for the job.

"With Bogey, it's amazing. He keeps getting stronger," said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. "He plays the part, he's one of the best athletes we have. I was joking with him. Now he's the older one, right? Enrique [Hernández] is up there with him age-wise, but he's the veteran guy.

"We made a commitment with him a few years ago, and I'm glad he's our shortstop. He's so consistent in everything he does. I saw him today walking around talking to players, growing into the leader I envisioned a few years ago and it's going to be fun work with him."

While Chris Sale, J.D. Martinez, Christian Vázquez, Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Barnes are among the players on the team who are older than Bogaerts, nobody knows the ins and outs of the Red Sox better.

"We obviously have a lot of guys with experience, a lot of veteran guys on this team, but obviously me knowing the ins and outs of this organization and how they like to do stuff and how important it is to winning, I think is very huge," said Bogaerts.

Bogaerts cares not just about leading his own team, but for setting the right example for anyone who might be watching him.

"When I first got here, I was young, man. I just wanted to get to the big leagues and make it from my little tiny Aruba," Bogaerts said. "Now I'm eight years in in the big leagues, and I know I've accomplished some stuff so far at a young age. That's stuff that fuels me to continue to do it, to continue to be better, to set an example for the other group, the kids at home, the kids in the Caribbean that follow baseball.

"That stuff fuels me to continue to be successful, to continue to be productive and help my team. The more you win, the more people will remember and recognize you."

While some in the same position as Bogaerts might bemoan losing so many key members from the 2018 championship team (Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi, David Price, Jackie Bradley Jr. and several others), the shortstop maintains the sunny demeanor he's had since his arrival from Aruba all those years ago.

Bogaerts looks at the current roster and expresses no complaints. He thinks the Red Sox should be able to win with what they have, and he will do whatever he can to make it possible.

With the Red Sox going 24-36 last season, Bogaerts was asked if he thought the team could be respectable in 2021. He seemed to take offense to that line of thinking.

"I don't think you want to have a respectable season," said Bogaerts. "I think we're gonna go out there and compete and try to get to the playoffs. Obviously we know it's been a couple years since we've been there. Obviously the main goal is trying to get in and the team that's hot, that's the one that's going to win in the end.

"Our main goal is playing good baseball. We have a good baseball team as they've been preaching all of Spring Training. So it's up to us right now to go out there and perform. The front office did a good job bringing in new guys, guys with a lot of talent, guys with a lot of good history, guys that [who were] also on winning teams, so I think that shouldn't get overlooked a lot."

What Bogaerts can offer his younger teammates even more than batting and fielding tips is a lesson on the mindset it takes to get through a 162-game season, particularly in the pressure cooker known as Boston.

"I would say that experience I have, knowing you're going to have ups and downs throughout the season, not putting too much pressure on yourself, knowing what you have to do to come out of slumps when you do hit rough patches whenever you encounter them is key," Cora said.

Though some shortstops might be more impressive to watch than Bogaerts, there is nobody that Cora would rather have at that key position.

"It's not only what you do at shortstop. It's how you act in the clubhouse, what you do for the community, how people see you in Boston," said Cora. I mean, there's no red flags with him. I've been saying all along, and a lot of people here, they know how I feel about Carlos [Correa] and Javy [Báez] and Francisco [Lindor], but I'm happy that Xander Bogaerts is my shortstop. I'm more than happy."

If all goes well, Bogaerts will be in Boston for many years. His contract takes him through 2025 with a club option for '26. However, there is also that opt-out clause following the '22 season.

"I haven't even been thinking of that yet," Bogaerts said. "When that times comes, we'll go over that and see how that works."