BOSTON — The last time the Boston Red Sox won a World Series championship, a couple of wet-behind-the-ears players had important roles in the victory.
In 2007, it was Dustin Pedroia and Jacoby Ellsbury who were the young players thrown into a mix of veterans when the Red Sox swept Colorado. The 2013 version of Pedroia and Ellsbury just might be third baseman Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts got the start at third base for the Red Sox in Game 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. Bogaerts became the youngest player to appear in a World Series game since Miguel Cabrera played with Florida in 2003. Cabrera was 20 and Bogaerts is just 21.
By virtue of his age, Bogaerts put himself all over the Boston record book. He is the youngest player to ever start a postseason game for the Red Sox, as he was some 229 days younger than Babe Ruth. He is also the youngest Red Sox player to record a postseason hit.
“It's a game about opportunities,” Bogaerts said. “I was on the bench and you never know what's going to happen. It's about one opportunity. If you do good and they like what they see, you get another chance. That's basically what happened.”
Bogaerts has more than made the most of his opportunity in this postseason.
Bogaerts scored four runs in the American League championship series against Detroit, the most of any player on either team. He started Games 5 and 6 for Will Middlebrooks, went 3 for 6, and right now is manager John Farrell's third baseman.
“What's not normal is Xander Bogaerts,” Farrell said in a pre-game media availability. “He's not a typical 21-year-old. We've talked a lot about the poise, the presence, the composure in which he plays. Even in the tightest moments, the smile never seems to leave his face.”
Bogaerts came into this season having been a member of the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic. He hit .263 with a pair of doubles and an RBI. He said playing in that environment helped with his adjustment to the big leagues and should be a help in the World Series.
“Japan was huge. All the fans rooted for them,” he said. “It's just like to go from (Boston) and go into St. Louis and all the fans will be rooting for them. The only difference is it was indoors (in Japan). That's probably the only difference. It's the same intensity. Everybody wants to win.”
While Bogaerts is the only rookie in the Boston starting lineup, the St. Louis roster is filled with younger players who are similar to the Boston third baseman.
“(He is) obviously a good athlete, obviously a young player, like many of ours, who hasn't been in awe of the situation to the point where he couldn't contribute and be effective,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.
A year ago, Bogaerts didn't have a World Series start on his radar screen.
“Twelve months ago? Probably two options, on the beach or on the baseball field,” he said. “It's definitely something you do, go to the beach and relax and reflect on the season ahead.”