BOSTON -- The fact that Xander Bogaerts has played himself into consideration for the 2015 All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile is a testament to the motivation he felt within after a disjointed rookie season of 2014.
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From the minute Bogaerts -- one of the four American League candidates for the Esurance 2015 All-Star Game Final Vote (Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner, who was originally on the Final Vote ballot, was added to the AL squad on Thursday) -- participated in his first fielding drill at Spring Training in February, it was clear that the agility work he did in the offseason had paid off.
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And when new Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis first conversed with Bogaerts, he knew that he was dealing with a 22-year-old who was beyond his years just in how much he cared.
"When I first saw him in Spring Training and he started talking about what happened last year, I stopped him right away," said Davis. "I said, 'Hey, I don't want to talk about last year.' And he said, 'No, but we have to, because it's a problem.' And then you have to listen to that, because this is something that keeps occurring, and he didn't like it."
After being an elite hitter for most of his professional career, Bogaerts knew that he had developed bad habits last season both with pitch selection and mechanics.
Red Sox team with Dodgers to back Bogaerts in Final Vote
"The beautiful part is he worked and trusted what was told to him, and he worked and worked and worked to get away from the habit, and he's away from that habit now," Davis said. "When you watch him hit, he's not diving his head down on balls, he's staying on one plane with the ball, he's seeing the ball better and hitting the ball better."
Perhaps a late push from Red Sox Nation can get Bogaerts that trip to Cincinnati for the Midsummer Classic. As of Friday morning, Bogaerts was trailing the other AL Final Vote candidates.
Video: MIA@BOS: Bogaerts makes a nice play to retire Bour
All-Star Game or not, the 2015 season has been a highly gratifying one for Bogaerts, as he's turned into perhaps Boston's steadiest hitter. Through 82 games, he is hitting .304 with 19 doubles, three triples, three homers and 41 RBIs.
At one of the most important defensive positions, Bogaerts has been up to the task all season.
"I'm just going out there and having fun," Bogaerts said. "I think the biggest part for me is anticipating a lot of plays. You can anticipate you might hit in this situation or with runners on with no one on and stuff like that. Just anticipation has been a big difference for me this year."
The time that Bogaerts spent with double-play partner Dustin Pedroia last winter in Arizona also helped.
"We talked a lot about the angles," Bogaerts said of Pedroia. "He's also a middle infielder. Angles is the biggest part he always talks about and preaches about. He definitely helped me a lot."
Pedroia is one of several teammates who has been vocal in his support of Bogaerts for the All-Star team, filming a video that the Red Sox tweeted out earlier this week.
Voting is open now at MLB.com to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until 4 p.m. ET today.
During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com.