Xander Bogaerts digs in for life without Mookie Betts

Rob Bradford
February 16, 2020 - 4:24 pm

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Will Xander Bogaerts and Mookie Betts ever play together again? It's a notion that nobody is ruling out.

"Hey, you know, eh, probably maybe in a year," Bogaerts said with a smile when asked if he was planning on recruiting the new Dodgers outfielder back to Boston after the 2020 season. "We’ll see how that goes. We know what he means to us. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there."

For now, however, Bogaerts is forced to adjust to this new existence. No more Mookie.

"I did," said the Red Sox shortstop when asked Sunday if he believed the two would be playing together for years to come. "Obviously, that’s the only way I knew it. Coming up a little before him, like I said, I saw him make his debut. You obviously think you’re going to stick together as a team. We knew tough decisions were going to come at a certain point. It’s hard to keep every guy that you have on the team. That’s why, ownership, front office, make those decisions. I can’t do those. It’s going to be tough without him and we’ll have to adjust."

Unlike Bogaerts, who avoided the idea of free agency by signing his six-year, $120 million extension at the beginning of last season, Betts has zeroed in on becoming a free agent for a while. It is a reality he is now just one season away from. And that's why the idea of a reunion with the Red Sox will remain in play.

"I can’t really speak for him. The one thing I know about him is that he loved being here," Bogaerts said. "He enjoyed playing with us. He was a great teammate. I can’t really say that he didn’t want to be here. I think it’s a little unfair to say but he enjoyed his time here, he never showed me anything he didn’t like about being here. It’s going to be tough without him but we had a lot of great memories with him, with David Price, getting that final out in Dodger Stadium, those are memories we’ll remember forever."

Until Betts' big decision, however, Bogaerts understands what Mookie's absence means. Gone is the Red Sox' starting right fielder for the past five-plus seasons and in his place are players named Alex Verdugo and Kevin Pillar.

"It’s going to be hard," he said. "Obviously, it came at such a late timing, so close to Spring Training so a lot of us didn’t know what was going to happen, if it was going to happen or not. I mean, I remember when he came up and made his debut in Yankee Stadium. It’s crazy to think how time flew that quick. Obviously, I wish him nothing but the best. He’s one of the best teammates I’ve had. Obviously one of the best young players we had to wear this Red Sox uniform. He’s someone that we’re going to miss a lot and it’s not easy to replace someone like that, on and off the field. It’s a lot of opportunities for other young guys and they should step up."