FORT MYERS, Fla. — It wasn’t exactly a watershed, but it was a first. On Tuesday morning, for the first time in his career, Xander Bogaerts took groundballs at third base rather than shortstop as part of his preparation to play as a third baseman and designated hitter for Team Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. He will also take groundballs at third on Wednesday before starting at third base in an exhibition game against Boston College on Thursday.
Sox manager John Farrell suggested that Bogaerts had a favorable first day of work at the position.
“[It was] just an early look today. Typically corner infielders are going to use a one-handed fielding technique, which he naturally went to, just moving to third base,” said Farrell. “He’s an infielder. He’s got a lot of natural ability and instincts there. We’ll get two days of work days with him and then get him into a game on Thursday.”
The shift is not without its challenges. Will Middlebrooks, for instance, needed months to become comfortable at third base when he moved there just prior to the start of his first professional assignment with the Lowell Spinners in 2008. The different demands on a third baseman are subtle but real.
“There’s different angles. A shortstop’s got the ability, one, he’s further away from the ball so there’s more of an internal clock, and fielding the ball at its highest point in that last hop. Here, it’s more reactionary,” said Farrell. “There’s going to be a little bit of different angles to it. he’s going to end up playing balls more straight up rather than being able to come around the ball. He’ll come through a given play. Hands and feet are the same in terms of the timing of it. There’s no real concern. It’s just getting comfortable with the angle he’ll be seeing a ground ball.”
There can be benefit to even a brief introduction to third base. For instance, a year ago, the Orioles were able to move Manny Machado from short to third in the big leagues despite the fact that he’d played only two games at the position in the minor leagues thanks in part to the spring training instruction the phenom received at the position.
For now, with Will Middlebrooks in line to be the Sox’ everyday third baseman, the Sox do not foresee a big league need for Bogaerts at third base.
“The major difference between [Machado's situation last year and Bogaerts' this year] is there’s a pressing need there. Certainly, provided Will stays healthy, that need doesn’t exist here,” said Farrell. “At the same time, it’s an opportunity to expose [Bogaerts] to the position and see where things go as he and [Jose Iglesias] and others get deeper in their careers and where they ultimately end up. As a young guy, you don’t know how that body type is going to continue to mature physically, but by all indications, it seems like he can stay at shortstop.”
That, certainly, is the case for now. But if Middlebrooks should get injured, or if down the line Iglesias establishes himself as an everyday shortstop, the fact that Bogaerts is getting some exposure to a new position has the potential to carry with it a positive impact.
Ian talks with Chris about the NFL offseason and specifically what the Pats have done and will do. He talks about NFL free agency, if Brandon Spike will come back to New England, all things NFL Draft and more in an extensive interview.
in hour 2 of NFL Sunday, Greg and Chris discuss some news from around the league including the Philip Rivers situation in San Diego, if the Titans may sign Rivers, where Marcus Mariota may end up, and what the Jets will do. Price talks with NFL Network's Ian Rapoport about all things NFL offseason and the draft. Finally, the guys touch on if the NFL is over-saturating fans with too much coverage all year round now.
Greg and Chris talk a ton of NFL Draft in hour 1 of the show. They discuss what the Pats might do with their early picks and get Mike Petraglia's thoughts on the issue as well.
Greg Dickerson and John Tomase discuss the amazing season for the Celts and if they have any chance against Lebron and the Cleveland Cavs in a seven game series. If they do, HOW ... how do they get it done?
Brian "White Mamba" Scalabrine joins the guys to talk about the Celtics playoff push, the development of Marcus Smart and James Young, and the prospect of Brad Stevens leaving the Celtics for a college job.
Brow Buff's Sam Packard and Ben Kichen break down Marcus Smart's unfortunate ball tap, debate leadership in the Celtics locker room, and rehash the great Kevin Love to Boston rumors.
Xander had the game winning hit in the bottom of the 9th to get the Red Sox on top of the Baltimore Orioles 3-2, he talked with Joe and Dave after the game about what his thought process during the at-bat was and the excitement of a walk-off.
Buster Olney of ESPN joins the guys to talk about the first two weeks of the baseball season. They discuss the struggling Red Sox rotation and the potential of the high-powered offense.
Joe and Dave talk with Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan after the Red Sox come back to beat the Nationals 8-7.
The awesomely knowledgeable Fluto Shinzawa calls DJ, Naoko and Pete to talk about his thoughts on the future of the B's. He discusses his column from earlier this week on Cam Neely wanting to give Claude the ax earlier in the season but not getting the ok. Fluto shares his thoughts on Chiarelli's firing, the future for Claude and where the Bruins should go from here. He also gives his opinion on potential moves the team can make, who would fit in here, his thoughts on the NHL playoffs so far and more.
In the final hour of the "midseason finale" as DJ likes to call it, the crew discuss more about the future of the Bruins franchise, the possible power struggle in the front office and who should be the head coach going forward. They talk to intelligent and talented Fluto Shinzawa about all of these thing and more in an excellent interview, and finally, DJ says THANK YOU!
DJ, Naoko and Pete get into the huge week for the Bruins that saw the franchise move on from GM Peter Chiarelli. They discuss why that was done and if they agree. What does this mean for Claude? They talk about Claude and if he can exist here. If not, who would work in Boston? They also get into the NHL Draft Lottery last night and talk to ESPN Boston's Joey "National" McDonald live from Tampa, Florida.
Kyle Draper and Sports Radio Hack Lou Merloni make up after beefing earlier in the week, Aaron Hernandez gets taken down by Larry Willmore, and our very own Christian Fauria makes his Country Music Debut
Celtics play-by-play announcer Mike Gorman joins the guys to defend his prediction of Celtics in 6.
After some suspicious outfield play from Red Sox Left Fielder Hanley Ramirez, the guys question whether or not he has what it takes to play in the outfield, a position he has never played before.
Dale, Michael and Jerry discuss the Celtics loss in game one, and whether or not they can steal game two before returning to Boston on Thursday.
We wrap up the day with some of the best sound you may have missed.
Michael, Jerry and Andy Hart discuss this year's Celtics as they enter the playoffs to take one of the best teams in the East in the NBA Playoffs.
Mikey, Lenny, and Erin talk about the Sox 7-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Patriots Day and the Sox hold on first place in the AL East. Also, the Celtics trail the Cavs 1 Game to 0 in their 1st Round series and the 2015 Boston Marathon is in the books.
Mikey Adams, joined by Lenny Megliola and Chris Villani, talks about the Red Sox home opening win at Fenway and the Bruins fallout after missing the playoffs including the future of Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien.
Chris Price joins Mut to talk about how Revis will heat up the Jets-Pats rivalry next season
Ben and Sam are joined by Julian Edlow from WEEI.com to give their predictions on every series in the NBA Playoffs.
Jerry is joined by hockey writer Brian "Rear Admiral" McGonagle of Barstool Sports to perform a post-mortem on what happened to the 2014-15 Bruins, who's to blame and where the team goes from here.
Ben and Alex break down Leg 1 of the quarter finals of the Champions League and talk about some of the most interesting transfer rumors.