Bogaerts' big day at the plate a positive sign: 'He's finding his way'

April 22nd, 2024

SAN DIEGO -- The skies above Petco Park on Sunday afternoon were a blanket of baby blue. It was a cozy 66 degrees with the slightest of breezes.

Or perhaps that was exhaling. An X-hale, if you will.

Bogaerts had a day to match the elements as the Padres avoided a weekend sweep with a 6-3 victory in the series finale against the Blue Jays. Bogaerts launched his second home run of 2024, posted his first mulithit game since April 3 and drew a bases-loaded walk for a timely confidence boost.

“I feel good,” Bogaerts said. “The walk there at the end is a good sign. The whole year, I’ve said I’ve been seeing the ball better than normal. Then I had a couple strikeout games in a row. Then now. So, hopefully, this continues for a while.”

Ahead for Bogaerts and Co. is a visit to the hitters haven of Coors Field. Bogaerts has played nine games in Colorado, posting a .382 batting average and a 1.241 OPS. Four games from now, his slow start to 2024 just might be forgotten.

“I think he’s pretty much there,” manager Mike Shildt said. “He’s such a pro. He knows who he is, what he’s about.”

The first step came Sunday.

Bogaerts came into the game below the Mendoza line, batting .191. But he was 3-for-6 lifetime against Blue Jays starter Chris Bassitt, and that trend won out.

In the third inning, Bogaerts put a jolt into a 1-2 cutter high in the strike zone and sent it a Statcast-projected 387 feet, into the left-field seats, for a solo home run that tied the game, 2-2. It was a sign the tide was turning for Bogaerts. Just two days earlier, he hit one harder and farther to left-center, but was a bit closer to dead center and turned into an out when Daulton Varsho covered 126 feet to make a spectacular catch.

“Xander’s been one of the most consistent players over the course of his career,” said starting pitcher , who earned the win with seven innings of three-run ball. “I don’t think anybody here has any concerns about him. He’s finding his way. He’s arguably the hardest worker in here, not only in preparation for the game, but during the course of the game.

“He’s always sprinting back and forth from the dugout to the clubhouse to the cages to look at video, get his swing right, get dialed in. We trust him and believe in his work ethic.”

Musgrove was on to something. Bogaerts said he took “probably 200 swings” in the indoor cage on Sunday, with the leg kick he has been using in games. But during the home run at-bat against Bassitt, he switched to a smaller toe tap instead.

“I tend to do weird stuff like that,” Bogaerts said. “I do a lot of different stuff. I’m not that guy that if it doesn’t feel right, I’ll stick with it. If it ain’t it, it ain’t it.”

Another sign of a turnaround came in the fifth, when a 74.6 mph knuckler off Bogaerts’ bat fell in front of Varsho in left field for his second hit of the game. Sometimes it’s the right spot on the field, rather than on the bat, that ends a slump.

Bogaerts found both on Sunday.