Bogaerts, Nava go deep in loss

JUPITER, Fla. -- The Red Sox have dropped five of their six exhibition games, including Wednesday’s 8-6 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, their third consecutive defeat.

In games that counted last season, Boston never lost more than three straight games all year.

But relax, Red Sox fans, it’s only spring training. And, as a bonus, at least three Boston players turned in positive performances on Wednesday: shortstop Xander Bogaerts, left fielder Daniel Nava and Christian Vazquez.

Here’s a closer look:

* Bogaerts, batting third, went 1-for-2 with a two-run homer and a walk.

He struck out his first time up, chasing a pitch up and away for strike two and getting caught looking for the punch out.

After that, his selection of pitches to hit was much better, and the results left him thrilled.

“It was awesome,” Bogaerts said when asked how he felt about the homer. “For the past few days, I’ve been hitting a lot of line drives right at people. So it was good to hit one where no one was at.”

Bogaerts, 21, said he had some timing issues in the beginning of camp, which left him chasing pitches instead of letting the ball get to him.

He’s made the adjustment, though, and the native of Aruba seems poised to show what he can accomplish when given the opportunity.

“Xander has swung the bat really well in spring training,” manager John Farrell said. “Even the other day, he hit a couple of hard line outs.

“He looks comfortable at the plate. He is an exciting young player. We are going to need production from him.”

* Nava, batting leadoff, went 1-for-2 with a solo homer, a walk and a strikeout. He also got picked off at first base.

“He’s a candidate to hit lead off against certain starting pitchers,” Farrell said. “He has the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and, if he does that, certainly we will take it.

“But his at-bats haven’t changed despite the slot in the lineup that he has occupied.”

Nava, 31, had an excellent .385 on-base percentage last season. He also had 29 doubles and 12 homers and scored 77 runs, numbers good enough that he should find a home somewhere in the lineup, which is all he cares about.

“I’m not looking at leadoff any differently than any other spot,” he said. “The only time it’s any different is the first inning. Besides that first time, it’s still the same approach. How many times after that will I lead off an inning?”

As for the pickoff, when he got caught by lefty reliever Randy Choate, Nava said he was going on first move and just guessed wrong.

Nava said baserunning is a point of emphasis for him this year.

“That applies to whether I am batting fifth or leadoff,” he said. “It doesn’t mean to steal more bases. It means as an overall baserunner, go from first to third, take that extra base when I can.”

* Vazquez went 2-for-3 and threw out two runners trying to steal.

“He was great,” veteran pitcher Chris Capuano said of Vazquez. “From the first day I threw a bullpen session to him, he was asking me what pitches I like to throw, what counts, how I want him to set up.

“He is very eager to learn and has a good head for the game.”

Vazquez, 23, is a native of Puerto Rico and was Boston’s ninth-round pick in 2008. He played 96 of his 97 games at Double A last season, batting .287 overall with five homers and 48 RBIs.

But Vazquez’s defensive skills are what set him apart.

“Physically, he is very gifted,” Capuano said. “He receives the ball well, throws the ball well. You can tell he has a passion for what he is doing. I enjoyed working with him.”