BOSTON -- Monday, the Red Sox optioned center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to Triple-A Pawtucket because of his offensive struggles. Sending down Bradley, 24, had been discussed in the last few weeks, manager John Farrell said. Mookie Betts was recalled in his place and will see time in center.
But because of the position he plays and the stretches of consistency he has shown, Xander Bogaerts likely won't suffer the same fate as Bradley in the coming weeks, Farrell said. The skipper said he's been pleased with Bogaerts' improvement going to his glove side in the field and his success at the plate earlier in the year, and said an organization has to be accepting of growing pains with all young players.
"We've seen stretches of consistency that maybe some others haven't had," Farrell said. "There was a stretch of games in which he showed it here. Part of that is dealing with the expectation here, his personality and how it handles that. This is part of growing up as a 21-year-old in the big leagues."
Those pains were evident Sunday when Bogaerts neglected to step on second before throwing to first after fielding an easy double-play ball with one out. That extended the inning and Jose Altuve eventually hit a grand slam to put Houston up 6-0.
"A lot of lessons learned here," Bogaerts said Sunday. "I think it's time to stop messing up so much, you know."
Monday afternoon, Bogaerts worked on the exact play he botched Sunday with infield instructor Brian Butterfield. The shortstop got right back to work.
"He's a conscientious kid. He probably feels as horrible as anyone with some of the happenings lately," Farrell said. "The anticipation of the play prior to them happening is what we're centering our conversation around. Anticipate the play, make the decision accordingly and let your natural ability take over."
At the start of the 2013 season, Bogaerts was the sixth-best prospect in all of baseball, according to MLB.com. He's as heralded a position player as the Red Sox have brought through their system in the last decade, so he's a big part of 2015 and beyond. Signed as an international free agent out of Aruba in 2009, Bogaerts is under team control until 2019.
Bogaerts began the season at shortstop and moved to third when Stephen Drew rejoined the club, but has since returned to short because the Red Sox traded Drew to the Yankees on July 31.
Entering Monday, the infielder was batting .228/.296/.342 in his first full Major League season. He'd played 113 of the team's 123 games at either shortstop or third base. In early June, though, he was hitting over .300 with an on-base percentage near .400.
Bogaerts played just 18 games during the 2013 regular season, but looked poised in the playoffs. He went 8-for-27 with nine runs, four extra-base hits and six walks. He hit .296/.412/.481 over 12 games, including all six in the World Series against St. Louis.
But his struggles this year have been a part of Boston's as a whole.
"I'm going out there every day and trying the best I can," Bogaerts said. "It's not like I'm not putting in the effort or work, or anything like that."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Steven Petrella is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less