Xander Bogaerts, confidence unwavering, takes stock of unfamiliar challenge of struggling

Jim Rogash

Despite the unfamiliar challenges of dealing with a major slump, Xander Bogaerts is not any less confident than he was before the struggles.

BOSTON -- Growing up in Aruba, Xander Bogaerts never really went through struggles on the baseball field. Bogaerts was always the best player on the rocky baseball fields of Aruba, and as a result, never had trouble hitting whatever was thrown at him. Even coming up through the Red Sox system, Bogaerts rarely had trouble for extended periods of time. With Bogaerts, a week of a batting average below .250 was considered a struggle, and always, he would follow up the "struggle" with a week where he would hit .300.

Even when he came up and was asked to make a contribution a contribution during a World Series run, Bogaerts did not shy away from the spotlight. Instead, he flourished.

Bogaerts is really struggling at the plate, for what he says, for the first time in his life. Since the beginning of June, Bogaerts is hitting .133/.142/.230 with two doubles, three home runs, four walks and 34 strikeouts. Just a month ago on June 7, Bogaerts was hitting .299/.387/.452 and looked to be hitting his stride. Just a month later, Bogaerts is hitting .241/.320/.362.

While Bogaerts continues to mull over his mechanics and adjustments in approach at the plate, the third baseman says that his confidence has not dropped at all.

"I'm pretty much the same [in confidence as the beginning of the year]," Bogaerts asserted. "Obviously, I'm not getting the results I want. A lot of times, people go through something like this in their career and it's my turn right now."

While Bogaerts' struggles has coincided with the move to third base, Bogaerts indicates that the position change did not affect the his mental state. Instead, he has taken the position change in stride after initially expressing displeasure over the move.

During his struggles, Bogaerts acknowledges that he has had difficulties laying off breaking balls outside of the strike zonel. Bogaerts says that he has talked to assistant hitting coach Victor Rodriguez and several veteran players about his approach at the plate. From his conversations with others, Bogaerts says that his current struggles are part of a process that comes with being a young player in major league baseball.

"Everyone goes through something like this at some point in their career," Bogaerts said. "This is my turn right now. I'm just working to turn things around. [The veterans] just told me some stuff that made sense with me about the stuff that I'm going through. They told me to keep working at it and keep going at it until I find the comfort."

Bogaerts says the mechanical adjustments that he is currently working on fine tuning with Rodriguez include getting his head more squared, not letting his body fly open during his swing and letting the ball get deep in the zone. While he clearly isn't in a spot that he'd like to be in, Bogaerts says the struggles are not holding him back developmentally.

"It's not like I'm taking it from at-bat to at-bat," Bogaerts said. "I have the first at-bat and then the next at-bat is a different and the next one after that is a different one. It's not something that's been dragging me along. I'm just not getting results. I've been swinging at a lot of bad pitches lately, chasing a lot of bad pitches and working on getting back on track."

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