Bogaerts seeking an upbeat ending to a dreadful month

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With two games left in August, Xander Bogaerts returned to the Red Sox lineup Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Rays with the second-lowest average by any major leaguer in a month this season (minimum 50 plate appearances).

Bogaerts hasn't played since being struck in the batting helmet by a pitch from Seattle's Felix Hernandez eight days ago, which put him on the seven-day concussion disabled list. So far in August, Bogaerts is batting .106 (7-for-66), with five singles and two doubles.

The only major leaguer with a lower batting average this month, or any month, is Texas left-fielder Jim Adduci, a 29-year-old journeyman batting .077 (4-for-52) in August.

Only two Red Sox rookies in the last 100 years have had a lower batting average in August: Glenn Hoffman batted .104 in 1981 and George Cochran batted .085 in 1918. Cochran's average is the lowest by a Sox player in any month.

Four Sox players entered play Saturday with batting averages below the fabled Mendoza line (.200) for the month: Christian Vazquez (.197), Will Middlebrooks (.195), Mike Napoli (.184) and Bogaerts.

Overall, the Sox rank 27th in batting average for the month (.236), ahead of just Oakland (.228), Arizona (.223) and the New York Mets (.214). Despite the low batting average, the Sox are 12th in runs scored, with 108 in 26 games, just over four runs per game.

Bogaerts is batting .223 overall. Only three Red Sox rookies ever have had a lower batting average (minimum 400 plate appearances): Jackie Bradley Jr. .216 this season, catcher Mike Ryan .214 in 1966, and infielder Heinie Wagner .213 in 1907.

Only 21 big league rookies (400 or more plate appearances) since 1990 have batted .223 or less. The best player on that list is probably second baseman Brandon Phillips, who batted .208 in 2003 as a 22-year-old for Cleveland, spent the next two seasons in the minors, batted .300 in 2011, and is still playing with a career average of .271.