April 2, 2019

Bogaerts: "I'm Blessed To Have A Great Group Of Guys Pushing Me To Become Better"

I have never allowed advertising on this blog, but I have to say that Chad Jennings's "The Annotated Guide To Xander Bogaerts' Heartfelt Extension Press Conference" is a perfect example of why I'm happy to subscribe to The Athletic.

The article gives you the news, of course, but presents it from a different angle, with unique viewpoints and quotes that are less cliche than what you often read in the daily papers. There are no game stories at The Athletic, so pretty much all of their coverage is feature articles. One cool story from 2018 was Jen McCaffrey's look at how the team got the metal plates with triple-digits for the AL East standings on the Green Monster (for both Boston wins and Baltimore losses). The Athletic also has Jayson Stark, Ken Rosenthal, and Peter Gammons on its baseball beat. ... Okay, enough with the sales pitch.
When​ it was his turn to​ speak,​ Xander Bogaerts​ hesitated.​ It seemed​ he didn't​ know​ what to​​ say, or maybe he wasn't sure how best to say it. ...

It was Bogaerts who had passed up the opportunity to hit the open market this winter. It was Bogaerts who, at the final hour, had asserted himself to make the deal happen. It was Bogaerts who needed to speak and explain what it all meant. ...

"I think Dave said everything," he said.

But as he smiled, Bogaerts continued, and he spoke for a full two and a half minutes before anyone had a chance to ask a question. He mentioned 22 different people, 18 of them by name. He spoke of two championships in the big leagues and four years in the minors. He rubbed his perfectly manicured facial hair and talked about the day he signed with no hope of growing a beard. ...
I want to start by saying thank you to John Henry, Tom Werner, Mr. Gordon and the Red Sox ownership group for making this happen. Obviously, thank you to my agent, Scott Boras, for making this possible and working hard with Dave Dombrowski, and BOH (3) and everyone that was involved getting this done. I also see Mike Fiore in the back there. I know how close I am with him.

I want to thank my family back at home. I know my mom, my uncle, my brother (5) and obviously my sister, they're so close to me. I know how proud they are of me (for) being able to do this. They know this is where I grew up as a kid — 16-year-old kid with no facial hair. Now, I got so much going on. I know how proud they are of me, and I'm very thankful for them. I see a lot of my teammates over there (8). I'm very blessed to have teammates like that, (and the) coaching staff. I can say I have won two rings with this organization, and the group we had last year and the group we have this year, it goes beyond just regular guys. I think it's a real family. Guys that I grew up playing with in the minor leagues, Christian Vazquez, Jackie Bradley, Brandon Workman, all those guys. Matt Barnes. Just seeing them grow as players and helping us, the Red Sox team, win championships. Mookie Betts, I mean, I'm really blessed to have a great group of guys like that behind me and pushing me to become better.

Alex Cora, who has obviously helped me a lot to become the player I am today. I want to thank all my coaches in the minor leagues that I had. I see Febles. I see Goody. I've had them in the minor leagues. Rags. I'm very thankful for all you guys. I mean, I'm blessed, and thank you. Thank you. If I forgot someone, I mean, sorry, but thank you. Eddie Romero. I mean, wow. Raquel Ferreira (16) — I think she's obviously one of my family while I'm here in Boston. She learned me when I was a little kid; I know she's helped a lot of these guys here. Also, thank you to her, and, I mean, it's very special to be here.
(3): BOH is Brian O'Halloran, the Red Sox's executive vice president and assistant general manager, who handles a significant portion of the team's contractual issues. He is lead negotiator for the team. "There's been prolonged discussions throughout the whole winter time," Dombrowski said. "And now, finally, we had some conversations that I thought were optimistic during spring training and some conversations I didn't think were optimistic at the time. At the very end, I will say that Bogey was very influential in this. He really made an emphasis on how much he wanted to be a Red Sox, and really right around Opening Day — it was Opening Day — we had talked about it, weren't sure which direction it was going to go, and things happened at Opening Day really over that whole day to get it done. I wasn't sure which direction it was going to go in. When I say for me, it really was Scott talking to Brian O'Halloran and (senior vice president) Raquel Ferreira being involved in it too and keeping me informed."

5. Bogaerts signed out of Aruba in 2009, and it was kind of a two-for-one deal. He signed for $410,000, while his twin brother, Jair — a catcher and first baseman — signed for $180,000. It was Jair who initially interested the Red Sox. Their scout, Mike Lord, nearly missed Xander because he was sick with chickenpox. While Xander quickly became one of the top prospects in all of baseball, Jair's career stalled in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .227 across two seasons. He was ultimately traded in March 2012 as part of the unusual compensation package that sent general manager Theo Epstein to the Cubs. The Cubs released Jair a month later.

8. The room was packed with players, who made Bogaerts laugh when he first sat behind the microphone. Rafael Devers literally sat on the floor like a little kid. Eduardo Núñez stood with his arms crossed the whole time, a look that must have been designed to make Bogaerts laugh again and again. When the press conference was over, Mitch Moreland literally lifted Devers off the floor, and Bogaerts did a pair of one-on-one interviews, first with NESN and then with WEEI's Joe Castiglione, who Bogaerts hugged first. Not 15 minutes after the media blitz was over, Bogaerts was back in the clubhouse, playing cards with Devers, Núñez and Vazquez.

16. Ferreira is a senior vice president of major- and minor-league operations, but she's been referred to as the "organizational mom" for her work with young players coming up through the system. The Athletic happened to be working on a profile of Ferreira last postseason when Bogaerts paused his infield drills before an ALCS game to wave and yell to her. "She was my mom away from home," Bogaerts said.
If you have listened to even a handful of radio broadcasts since 2013, you know that Joe Castiglione loves Xander Bogaerts - as much as a proud father. Castig can't talk about X for very long before letting you know the shortstop speaks four languages. (At this point, whenever Castiglione starts talking about Bogaerts, Laura will talk back to the broadcast: "Hey, Joe, how many language does Xander speak again?" (Now, whether Castig loves X more than he loved Justin Masterson's wife's cookies ... that I'm not sure about.)


laura k said...

I thoroughly enjoyed this post.

laura k said...

Also, this is part of what I love about Castig, his genuine admiration and respect for players, his genuine caring about the people who make the game.