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By BRENDAN McGAIR
PAWTUCKET â€“ Just because Will Middlebrooks is now taking up residence in the PawSoxâ€™ clubhouse doesnâ€™t mean that the Xander-Bogaerts-to-third-base experiment has been relegated to the back burner.
Manager Gary DiSarcina says that the defensive plan the Red Sox had mapped out for Bogaerts upon getting his feet wet at the Triple-A ranks is still going to proceed as scheduled â€“ even with Middlebooks holding down the third-base spot for Pawtucket. Starting Thursday, Bogaerts will begin taking grounders at third base during what DiSarcina dubbed â€śearly work.â€ť
â€śWe talked to Xander for about 20 minutes (Wednesday) about it,â€ť said DiSarcina. â€śItâ€™s just about putting another tool in the toolbox. If you have the ability to play third base or second base and youâ€™re in Triple A and something happens upstairs â€¦ you donâ€™t want to be pigeonholed as a one-position player. You just limit yourself.â€ť
DiSarcina referenced Jose Iglesias and how the shortstop was able to move around the infield and not skip a beat. Little did anyone know at the time of the expansion of Iglesiasâ€™ repertoire that he would emerge as the Red Soxâ€™ primary third baseman, a point that the Pawtucket manager undoubtedly conveyed to Bogaerts.
â€śIf Xander does get called up, he might have to go over to third or second just by basic need,â€ť said DiSarcina. â€śYou want him to experience those positions down here before he goes up there.â€ť
The timing of exposing Bogaerts to third base â€“ the 20-year-old played the position for Team Netherlands during this past Marchâ€™s World Baseball Classic â€“ coincides with the expected arrival of Red Sox infield coordinator Andy Fox to McCoy Stadium (Click here to read more about Foxâ€™s thoughts on Bogaertsâ€™ glovework: http://pawtuckettimes.com/content/red-sox-think-top-prospect-bogaerts-ca...).
DiSarcina mentioned that it could be a while before Bogaerts sees game action at third base. Once that day comes, and if Middlbrooks is still with Pawtucket, the skipper already has a schedule in mind.
â€śWe may move Xander over to third just to Will a blow if Willâ€™s been playing five or six days in a row, or maybe DH Will and move Xander over there,â€ť said DiSarcina. â€śHeâ€™s going to be a big-league shortstop, but just to increase his value of him, it puts an extra tool in his tool box."
Follow Brendan McGair on Twitter on @BWMcGair03