Bogaerts calm, cool amid playoff pressure

BOSTON -- Just 10 days removed from his 21st birthday, top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts didn't command as much attention Friday at Fenway as some of his more established teammates.

Unlike Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia and Jonny Gomes, the backup infielder wasn't surrounded by a scrum of reporters, instead holding a series of one-on-one conversations. But in another sense, the young shortstop from Oranjestad, Aruba, may have the most company of all, with his entire home country behind his back.

"Back home we always have a lot of Boston Red Sox fans," Bogaerts said. "There's a lot of fans excited about us. Hopefully we go far."

When asked who has been in contact with him from back home, Bogaerts simply responded, "Everyone." From telephone to Facebook to Twitter, the phenom shortstop has received an overwhelming amount of support since being called up Aug. 19. During his debut one night later, Bogaerts' family made the trip to San Francisco to see him go 0-for-3 against the defending champion Giants.

"My family has always managed to support me, in good and bad times. They'll always be there for me," Bogaerts said.

Among those in attendance was Xander's twin brother, Jair, whose time with the Red Sox came to an end last winter as Jair was sent to the Chicago Cubs to complete the compensation deal for Theo Epstein, who left Boston to become Cubs president. Jair was cut by the Cubs shortly afterward without playing in a game.

Xander said there's a good chance that some of his family will come to see him play once again.

"Hopefully [if we're in] the World Series or probably one of these games for the ALCS. Just anyone, probably some of them will come down."

In the American League Division Series against Tampa Bay, Bogaerts was brought in late in Games 3 (pinch runner) and 4 (pinch hitter) to score the tying run in each. Bogaerts walked in his only two plate appearances, an impressive feat of patience for a young player under the pressure of the postseason for the first time in his career.

Similarly, Bogaerts appeared calm and composed Friday.

"Probably when the game starts tomorrow I'll definitely feel different," Bogaerts said. "We're just out there preparing to have a good series again."