Red-hot Xander Bogaerts may be all that stands between Aaron Judge and a second pursuit in history
“They would hate me even more [in New York]”, Bogaerts laughed at the possibility of denying the judge the second triple crown in 55 years. “I wonder if I get a hit, if they will boo me? They will probably throw me hard. It won’t be easy. It won’t be easy. But I like the challenge. I really do. It’s something that wakes you up on the way to the ballpark.
Bogaerts is in the midst of a great month, entering Wednesday’s game against the Reds with the second-highest average (0.377) and fourth-highest OPS (1.018) of any month in his career. Still, the successes haven’t been an end in themselves, but rather the byproduct of what Bogaerts and the Sox view as a more disciplined and patient approach this month, the 29-year-old’s .452 OBP in September representing the highest rating of any month in his career.
“I feel like I take a lot of shots. It’s kind of the me I know,” Bogaerts said. “Sometimes we get aggressive and want to swing early. But now I’m more like, okay, I don’t mind if I take the first strike…probably until I get to New York.
As much as Bogaerts would love to take the batting title from Judge, however, he couldn’t help but marvel at his opponent.
“I’ve never seen anything like it with my eyes,” said Bogaerts, who remembers watching the home race between Marc McGwire and Samy Sosa on television at the age of 5 in Aruba. “What he does…he sees it a certain way, you know?” Sometimes as hitters you can see the ball well, but I wonder how he sees it. It’s incredible. He probably sees it double what the rest of us see when we’re locked up.
Big league preview for Mata?
As the Sox pursue an open audition for the 2023 pitching roles, the team currently has no plans to call the right-hander Bryan Mata of Triple-A Worcester. Mata, returning from Tommy John surgery, is 7-3 with a 2.32 ERA in 18 outings (17 starts) and 77 ⅔ innings over four levels.
The Sox believe Mata will benefit from the conclusion of the Triple-A season – his first minor league campaign since 2019 – but the team is considering other ways to expose him to the big league environment as he is emerging as a big league depth option entering 2023.
“Let’s just say he doesn’t happen,” Sox manager said Alex Cora. “Having him with him for a few days so he can see how we’re preparing, how we’re running the business, that’s [valuable], but from now on, come here and throw here, not yet. Not yet.”
The call calculation for the out of contention Red Sox was changed this month by the fact that the new collective agreement only allowed the expansion of the September roster from 26 to 28 players, instead of the 40 of the previous years.
As a result, the Sox had to be judicious in their call-ups – and also had to create vacancies to accommodate players coming in from the minors.
“It’s a pity that we are in this [out-of-contention] situation. We hate it, to be honest with you, but you have to enjoy it and you have to do what’s best for the organization,” Cora said. “If it’s more than [a 28-player roster], Kevin [Plawecki] is still there. We have a third receiver. But right now it’s more difficult. »
Plawecki landed on his feet on Wednesday, signing with the Texas Rangers, his fourth team in his eight-year career. The light-hitter receiver probably won’t see many hitters in front of starter Jonah Heim, but could slot in as a backup for the 63-84 Rangers.
A non-COVID bug has swept through the Red Sox clubhouse, with some players (including starters Michael Wacha and rich hill, both slated to start this weekend against the Yankees) staying in Boston rather than traveling to Cincinnati, with some staying at hotels before batting practice and others wearing masks in the clubhouse. …Former Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo – who lives in the Cincinnati area – stopped by the Red Sox clubhouse before the game. Arroyo and Cora were on the 2005 Sox before the team traded him the following spring to Cincinnati for Wily Mo Pena. He also joined the show WEEI. … Red Sox minor league coach Bianca Smith was at the game at the Great American Ball Park. She worked for the Reds in 2019.