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Sports

February 20, 2013

Prized Sox SS prospect prepares for WBC

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts, Boston’s top prospect, is chugging away at his first spring training, doing whatever he can to impress staff and teammates.

Either way, though, he’ll soon be headed out of town.

Bogaerts, 20, a native of Aruba, will be leaving JetBlue Park to join Team Netherlands as it prepares for the World Baseball Classic. The Netherlands begin competition March 2 against South Korea in Taiwan.

“It’s going to be exciting,” Bogaerts said. “Those guys that I’ve played with growing up, it’s going to be fun playing with them again.”

The Red Sox figure the WBC is a great place for growth. After all, there are few short-term plans with Bogaerts in Boston, as shortstop Stephen Drew signed a one-year contract with the Red Sox and Jose Iglesias, another prized prospect, is still in the mix. So, 2014 might be more of a fit in Boston for Bogaerts. And until then, he just wants to play and prepare.

Along the way, if a position switch pops up, he’s all for it. And that’s a good thing because Team Netherlands would like to pencil him in at third base or designated hitter. The Netherlands has several highly regarded shortstops on its roster, and would like to spread the wealth. Bogaerts, who joined the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in August 2009, is ready, even though he has only played shortstop in his professional career.

“No problem,” he said. “Just to be able to play and be in the lineup, that’s what’s important for me. And to be able to play and help the team win, that’s important to me.”

Bogaerts guessed the last time he played third was “maybe when I was small in Little League.” To prepare for the move, the Red Sox began working him out at third base yesterday. He will start at the position tomorrow vs. Boston College.

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