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Notes: Bogaerts confident; Pérez stepping up

@IanMBrowne
July 7, 2020

BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts has seen all the short and long lists for potential contenders this season. He hasn’t seen the Red Sox mentioned on any of them. And the veteran shortstop seems a little offended by it. Bogaerts -- who has become a more visible leader following the departure

BOSTON -- Xander Bogaerts has seen all the short and long lists for potential contenders this season. He hasn’t seen the Red Sox mentioned on any of them.

And the veteran shortstop seems a little offended by it.

Bogaerts -- who has become a more visible leader following the departure of Mookie Betts -- would love to see the Red Sox emerge into one of the surprise squads of the 60-game season.

“We’re coming into the season as underdogs,” said Bogaerts. “With the lineup we have, and the team that we have [and] the roster we have, I don’t understand how we’re that much of an underdog. On paper, we’re pretty solid. It’s just going to be up to us, man, to be the organization that does it the right way and stays healthy for a long period of time.”

There are some health concerns out of the gate. Four Red Sox players have tested positive for COVID-19, including staff ace Eduardo Rodriguez.

But Bogaerts isn’t looking for excuses. He wants to erase the bitter taste of last season’s failed title defense and get back to the postseason.

Bogaerts knows that the pitching staff might have to exceed expectations for his optimistic view to become a reality.

“I think there’s never enough pitching. Obviously we know we’re not the first-ranked pitching team in baseball,” Bogaerts said. “We have some guys. Every year, there’s another guy who steps up, man. I’ve been here for a few years. I’ve seen guys come onto the scene and help out the team big time. Hopefully we have some of those guys, along with the established guys that we have already on our team. Let’s have a good one. The lineup is pretty strong. As long as pitching keeps us in the game, we’ll have a good chance.”

Pérez ready for more responsibility
When the Red Sox signed lefty Martín Pérez at the end of the Winter Meetings, he was projected to be the team’s No. 5 starter.

When David Price was traded to the Dodgers, Pérez moved to No. 4. When Chris Sale went down with season-ending Tommy John surgery, he was up to No. 3.

And now, with Rodriguez’s status for the start of the season in limbo, Pérez could open as the No. 2 starter behind Nathan Eovaldi.

In other words, his potential importance to the team’s level of success this season has increased by leaps and bounds. Pérez says he will try to put that out of his mind and just focus on the task at hand.

“I don’t want to put too much pressure on me,” Pérez said. “I just go out there and I’m going to enjoy the game and do my best, and I’m going to keep it simple. When you keep it simple, your job is better. Like I say, you have to enjoy your job and you’re going to get better results.”

The results Pérez had with the Twins in the first half of 2019 (8-3, 4.26 ERA) would be just what the Red Sox need in this shortened 60-game season. Pérez thinks he can fix all that ailed him in the second half, when he was 2-4 with a 6.27 ERA.

“I just want to take all the positive things and put it on this year, put everything together again and help the team to win,” Pérez said. “I have a good feeling, I feel great. I’m happy to be here and to be part of this organization. When you feel good and happy, you can do whatever you want. I trust my stuff, I believe my stuff and this organization believes in me. And I have the feeling that this is going to be a good year for me.”

Living the suite life
Just about every Red Sox player has raved about the opportunity to use the Fenway Park suites in place of the usual clubhouse. Typically, there are two players per suite. Bogaerts is sharing his with third baseman Rafael Devers.

It has been unique watching Red Sox players using the outdoor portion of the suites to watch their teammates take batting practice. Bogaerts thinks the vantage point is helpful for noticing possible flaws in swings.

“You can just sit outside and watch BP from the other guys,” Bogaerts said. “I think that’s something that we don’t normally do whenever the season is normal. So we see the work from the other guys and appreciate them. Whenever you see from the top of the view and you see they’re not doing it the right way, you can help them out. I think this year we’ll have a lot of eyes on each other and be able to help each other out more.”

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.