FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Xander Bogaerts, Boston’s rock in its lineup and in its clubhouse, arrived at Spring Training with a sore right shoulder and has yet to play shortstop.
If it feels like that slow timetable is ominous, Bogaerts provided some good news on Friday afternoon at JetBlue Park. Bogaerts finally got some at-bats, serving as the designated hitter in the Red Sox's 8-2 win over the Rays.
“Yeah, I will be completely ready [for Opening Day],” Bogaerts said. “I feel completely ready right now. Just looking forward to continuing to strengthen my shoulders and working with the training staff and just sticking to the routine we have going on right now. It’s all about me getting the routine with the baseball activities now, like cage work and just getting BP and throwing to the bases and stuff like that.”
Opening Day for the Red Sox is April 1 at Fenway Park against the Orioles, and it certainly would have a disjointed feel to it without their longest-tenured player.
But Bogaerts is 100 percent certain he’ll be there.
“Looking forward to being in the lineup on Opening Day, yeah,” said Bogaerts.
Batting third in his Grapefruit League debut, Bogaerts grounded out to third and struck out.
He will hit somewhere between third and fifth for the Red Sox this season, and you should pretty much be able to lock him in for 40 doubles, 25-30 homers and 90-100 RBIs.
As for the shoulder soreness, Bogaerts doesn’t know exactly what happened. He just knows that when he tried to cut it loose with his throwing in Aruba over the winter, he couldn’t.
When Bogaerts got to Spring Training, that was still the case, and he had some apprehension.
Fortunately, that’s gone now.
“I was a little bit nervous once I got down here, because I knew back home I couldn’t throw or anything like that and it affected some of my workouts,” said Bogaerts. “Yeah, I didn’t expect it to heal this quick. The training staff had an idea of what it was and how to fix it and stuff like that.
“Like I said, right now I’m feeling great, I’m feeling strong, that’s something really good. I feel fast. I ran to first base, I felt good, I got my legs moving. As I said, I’m looking forward to being out there a little bit more frequently and getting ready for the season.”
The progression will continue Saturday when Bogaerts gets another start at DH. The final test will come once he starts playing shortstop in games, which isn’t too far off.
“I would say about Tuesday. I don’t know how they think, but I think I’ll be able to do that by Tuesday,” said Bogaerts. “Just being able to throw to the bases and all that regular stuff, I started today with that, so just a couple more days of sharpening my angles and my release point and stuff like that.”
“He did a good job in the back fields today with the drills and throwing to first base,” said Red Sox manager Alex Cora. “I’ve got to talk to [trainer] Brad [Pearson] and see what’s next defensively or when he’s going to start at shortstop. Obviously probably Xander has some ideas. We probably have some others. Here, the goal is for him to be ready for Opening Day. In that one, in that plan, we’re all on the same page.”