FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Top Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts had mixed emotions as he departed camp on Saturday night and got ready to board a flight for Taiwan, so he can join Team Netherlands for the World Baseball Classic.
On one hand, Bogaerts can't wait to play in a showcase event. On the other hand, Bogaerts hates leaving his first Major League camp this soon.
"That's what makes this kind of tough. This is my first big league Spring Training," Bogaerts said. "It would have been nice if I could have stayed around the bigger guys, but it's also a great experience to go there and play in the World Baseball Classic."
In truth, the experience for the 20-year-old Bogaerts at the Classic could prove to be invaluable.
"I think any time a young player can get in front of 30, 40, 50,000 people is big," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That is a first that they can experience before they come to the big leagues. And depending on how far they go in their respective bracket, to go against, possibly, pitching that he hasn't seen at the Minor League level yet, all of those are going to be invaluable firsts."
Bogaerts left Boston's camp in style, belting an RBI single up the middle in a 4-3 loss to the Rays.
"He's got a good swing through the zone, and like we said the other day, he's a good-looking young player," said Farrell. "He's heady, he's got some field awareness, and good things are ahead for him."
Buchholz feels 'really good' after simulated outing
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A few hours before the Red Sox played their first Grapefruit League game, Clay Buchholz simulated a start on Field 2, firing two innings.
One of the luxuries of a longer Spring Training this season is that the Red Sox can be conservative with Buchholz, who tweaked his right hamstring during PFP (pitchers' fielding practice) 11 days ago.
Buchholz looked healthy on Saturday, facing Mike Carp and Lyle Overbay.
"I felt really good," said Buchholz. "The one thing I definitely need to sit back and work on is [working] out of the stretch. I didn't get to go in depth with it. There are obviously some kinks in the delivery, but other than that, I feel strong.
"Obviously, first and foremost, the arm feels really good, and the hamstring was secondary to that for me. I've been running the last couple of days, sprint stuff, and I haven't had anything holding me back."
Assuming there are no setbacks, Buchholz could make his Grapefruit League debut as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.
"They told me four days ago if it was midseason and I needed to pitch, then I could pitch," Buchholz said. "We're basically treating this as we have two extra weeks in Spring Training and there's no rush. I'm still going to have six, maybe seven outings, before we head north. I don't think there's anything that's going to be holding me back in the next few days."
Nava has strong debut at first base
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daniel Nava is trying to increase his value to the Red Sox by adding the ability to play first base to his repertoire. Judging by his debut on Saturday, Nava has a strong chance to be an option at first for manager John Farrell once the games start for real.
Nava came into Saturday's game in the sixth inning to replace starter Lyle Overbay and made a nice play on a grounder by Ben Zobrist.
"I was excited because it's new," Nava said. "It's the first time. Any time you do something like that, it's just exciting. The guys did a great job of having me out here early to make sure I understood a lot of things. If they had just thrown me out there, I would've been up for the wolves to get me. I was happy, but at the same time, I've got a lot of stuff to work on."
This was Nava's first game action at first base since junior college.
"Up until today, I had more time on the mound in pro ball than I did at first base. And I'm glad this went better than that," said Nava. "That didn't go too well."
Because of Nava's patient approach at the plate, he's a player the Red Sox would like to have on their roster.
"He gives you a quality at-bat," said Farrell. "He's made himself a very good left fielder, defensively, with the hard work he's put in. We're going to see this Spring Training the versatility he can include in his game by going over to first base. His status doesn't hinge on his capability at first, but it would certainly add flexibility to our bench."