The Boston Red Sox have plenty of questions heading into the season, and shortstop Xander Bogaerts doesn’t want to be one of them.
“I will be completely ready for opening day,” Bogaerts said after going 0 for 2 with one strikeout in Boston’s 8-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday, his first spring training game this year. “I feel completely ready right now.”
Bogaerts, 28, is coming off a season when he batted .300 with 11 homers and 28 RBIs while earning AL MVP votes for the third year in a row. But he reported to the Red Sox complex in Fort Myers, Florida, with a sore shoulder, which manager Alex Cora attributed to Bogaerts pushing himself too hard at home in Aruba during the offseason.
He was in the lineup at designated hitter on Friday because he hasn’t been cleared to play the field yet.
“Everything felt good. I’m looking forward to getting in there more often,” he said. “It’s all about me getting in the routine with baseball activities. Looking forward to being in the lineup opening day.”
Bogaerts said he hoped to appear in the field next week.
“I don’t know how they think, but I think I’ll be able to play by Tuesday,” Bogaerts said.
Cora said that hadn’t been decided yet.
“Obviously, Xander has some ideas; we probably have some others,” Cora said. “The goal is for him to be ready for opening day. On that one, we are probably on the same page.”
Also Friday, right-handed reliever Hirokazu Sawamura made his spring training debut. He got two quick outs on a fly ball and a strikeout, then got into trouble with a double and three straight walks.
“I was nervous, but in a good way,” he said. “I think I was tying to do too much on the mound.
Sawamura, 32, spent 10 seasons in the Japanese league before signing with the Red Sox this winter. He said he had no trouble adjusting to the different baseballs, but the pitching mounds and the strike zones might take some getting used to.
“This is just about getting his feet wet, getting his repetitions. Forget the results. It’s about the process. We saw it,” Cora said. “He wasn’t able to get out of the inning, but that doesn’t matter. We’re just happy that he’s here.”
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