Red Sox think Xander Bogaerts' 'natural ability' will again show itself after tweak in his mechanics

Mike Petraglia
July 18, 2014 - 8:00 am
John Farrell made a name for himself as one of the best pitching coaches in the game when when landed on Terry Francona's staff in 2007. But being one of the most astute pitching coaches has some fringe benefits. One of them is being able to break down a batter's approach from a pitcher's point of view. That's exactly what he's done in watching hours of video and observing Xander Bogaerts battle with his horrific slump in June and July. Farrell gave a fascinating breakdown of what the Red Sox think might be an issue with Bogaerts' approach at the plate, beginning with his pre-pitch address in the batter's box. "The one thing we've been focusing on is for him to get a little bit earlier and have a more gradual load [in his swing] or get to his loaded position," Farrell said. "When he's late, then it becomes rushed and hard to the front side and that's where some spin on some pitches becomes hard to read. It's a matter of slowing the game down and getting his load a little bit in the pitcher's windup. "That's where his natural swing is built. And we feel like if we get him back to a timing within his swing, timing within getting ready, that natural ability to use the whole field will come back into play. That's been elusive for him right now on a consistent basis." Bogaerts was going through a typical rookie season in the first six weeks, hitting just over .250. Bogaerts then went on a tear, raising his average to a season-best .304 on June 3. Then the bottom fell out. He went 9-for-95, including an 0-for-27 drought. He starts the unofficial second half Friday night against Kansas City with a .235 average. Bogaerts suffered through a .135 June and that's dropped to .132 so far in July, all of which coincided with the signing of Stephen Drew and Drew supplanting Bogaerts at short. Where does the turnaround begin? Farrell said the All-Star break is a natural starting point. "I think the four days gives guys a chance to mentally and physically take a break and get away from the game a little bit," Farrell said. "Xander's been going at it pretty hard, not only in terms of what he's been working on pregame but with every focus to be brought into the game, and he's played regularly as well. We've given him a couple of days here and there but I think the break mentally and physically was needed for him, and quite frankly, for a number of guys." Farrell and the Red Sox have tried many things, including bouncing him around in the batting order, dropping him at one point behind Jackie Bradley Jr. as the outfielder's bat began to warm up. Now, the Red Sox are hoping that a combination of being away from the game for four days and a mechanical tweak will send Bogaerts on his way to better second half.