Bogaerts shows what fuss was about

NEW YORK -- Here's a storyline with an expiration date rapidly approaching: the trials and tribulations of 21-year-old Red Sox rookie Xander Bogaerts.

In 28 days (Oct. 1), Bogaerts turns 22, which throws an entirely different perspective on his career arc, now doesn't it?

"After the postseason last year, a lot of people kind of thought I was like 30 or something," Bogaerts said Tuesday night.

"I mean, I'm not Albert Pujols or any of those guys yet."

Hey now, don't jump to conclusions. Bogaerts wasn't likening himself to a budding Pujols just because he had the first four-hit game of his nascent career in Tuesday night’s 9-4 win over the New York Yankees -- a line single to left in the second, a home run into the Yankees bullpen in right-center in the third, a line double to left in the fifth and another line single in the ninth.

This was more about chronology -- at 34, Pujols is 13 years older than Bogaerts -- than forecasts of great feats to come. Bogaerts is far too self-aware to compare himself to a player who had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time (.329/.403/.610/1.013 slash line with 37 home runs and 130 RBIs) when he was 21.

But after enduring a summer that has been an exercise in dealing with failure for the first time in his young life, Bogaerts welcomed an opportunity to laugh and smile in a postgame scrum that too often this season has been filled with gloom.

Bogaerts noted the three-hit night of another 21-year-old, Mookie Betts, who just more than two months ago made his big league debut right here in the Bronx. Betts, who hit a grand slam in Tropicana Field on Friday, hit his fourth home run into the left-field seats in the fourth and has now had multihit games in four of his past five.

"This season didn't go the way we wanted," Bogaerts said, "but there's a lot of talent coming up."

In August, Bogaerts batted just .123 (9-for-73), the lowest average for the month by any Sox player since Glenn Hoffman batted .101 in 1981. The month took an even worse turn when he was struck in the batting helmet by an 89 mph pitch from Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, which placed him on the seven-day disabled list with concussive symptoms.

But after going hitless in three at-bats in his first game back since being activated Saturday, Bogaerts has hit safely in his past three games, including his first home run since July 29, a span of 82 at-bats. Manager John Farrell noted that he hit it to right-center, a positive indicator that his swing is starting to get back to where he wants it to be.

While Bogaerts hesitated to suggest the layoff might have worked to his advantage, Farrell allowed that it might have given him a needed respite.

"Maybe a few days of downtime kind of rejuvenated him," Farrell said. "It's good to see him bounce back and go on a little bit of a run."