Xander Bogaerts' offseason has been an absolute whirlwind.
After winning the World Series with the Red Sox, the 21-year old Aruban shortstop was greeted back in his country as a national hero, as detailed by Scott Lauber in the Boston Herald.
"It was definitely nice man," Bogaerts said. "You see all of those kids looking up to you and wanting to be like you one day. It was definitely awesome to come back home and seeing all of the people that were proud of me because of the good job that we did, winning the World Series. I definitely could not have done it alone."
Although all of the celebration was a fun experience for Bogaerts, there was a point in the offseason where it was time to get back to work and prepare for the upcoming season. The big question for many on Bogaerts going into this offseason was not whether he would start for the Red Sox in 2014, but what spot in the infield he would call home.
Bogaerts, after playing third base in the playoffs and working with Third Base Coach Brian Butterfield, is comfortable at the hot corner.
"I played third base in the World Series and I think I did pretty well," Bogaerts said. "I didn't do Gold Glove-type defense, but I made most of the plays that I have to make so I could help and contribute to winning the World Series."
While Bogaerts is comfortable at both shortstop and third base, he is unwilling to choose a preferable position.
"It's not about [where I want to play], it's about the decisions the team makes. It doesn't matter if I am more comfortable playing shortstop. I played there my whole career, my minor league career so it's definitely something that I'm more used to, but it's not about what I want, it's what I need to do to help the team."
Many talent evaluators expect Bogaerts to put on weight as his career progresses due to his large frame at 6'3. Some believe that Bogaerts will eventually grow out of shortstop. The progress towards growing out of shortstop did not start this offseason.
"I would say that I'm probably around the same weight," Bogaerts said. "I maybe gained a few pounds, but nothing much. I like to run so I definitely watched my weight a lot. I'm probably around the same area. I'm not too much bigger or like that. I've been working out a lot though."
Bogaerts, who will wear Jacoby Ellsbury's old number, 2, this season, has been working out with a group of Aruban prospects during the offseason.
"We have a group of guys, most of the guys that are signed,"Bogaerts said. "I don't know even know how many guys we have signed in Aruba, maybe 15 maybe, probably 12 of us are working out together on a field here in Aruba. Curacao has had that going on for a lot of years now. All of the signed guys train together there, so we started it here."
Recently named the number two prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com behind only Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins, Bogaerts refuses to place expectations on his 2014 season.
"All I try to do is do the best I can," Bogaerts said. "I don't try to say that I'm going to hit 20 homeruns, hit 30 homeruns. All the work you put in the offseason, hopefully it pays off during the season. That's all I think about."
Even though the scheduled report date for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 15 (Feb. 18 for position players), Bogaerts plans to report to Spring Training before the end of January.
"It's something that I definitely can't wait for, coming back onto the field and starting to play again," Bogaerts said. "Baseball is something that I love to do. Here in Aruba, I train in the morning and sometimes I go back in the afternoon and go practice again, always trying to get better."