Mason: Justice finally arrives for Xander Bogaerts

AMANDA SABGA/Staff photoFILE — Xander Bogaerts will return to the All-Star Game for the first time since 2016.  

Around the Horn is a weekly column from Chris Mason, where the Eagle-Tribune beat writer offers nine thoughts from the Red Sox clubhouse.

This week’s installment hits on All-Star snubs, areas the Red Sox could add before the July 31 trade deadline, and Chris Sale losing his personal catcher. 

1. Justice for Bogey

The flight may be a little more expensive because the All-Star Game is less than a week away now, but Xander Bogaerts can finally book his ticket to Cleveland. 

Boston’s most consistent player in the first half, Bogaerts was snubbed first in the fan voting, then by the players, but yesterday he was added as an injury replacement for Hunter Pence.

It’s overdue and well-deserved.

Bogaerts came into last night’s game leading AL shortstops in extra-base hits (44), RBIs (58), and OPS (.933). Steady in the field, Bogaerts has also grown into a leadership role this season. He’s become a go-to guy for young players in the Red Sox clubhouse.

2. Raffy responds the right way

While on the topic of snubs, it’s always curious to see how a ballplayer will react to a slight, real or perceived. While some wallow, others use it as fuel to prove doubters wrong. J.D. Martinez has made a career out of the latter. 

Not named an All-Star despite a strong first half, Rafael Devers certainly isn’t wallowing. In the first game after it was announced he wouldn’t be joining Alex Cora in Cleveland, the 22-year-old third baseman took his frustration out on the Blue Jays.

Devers went 4 for 5 with two homers, six RBIs, and all four hits were absolutely scalded in Tuesday night’s win. 

3. He says the right things, too

A young player with a legitimate gripe, it would have been easy for Devers to whine about the snub. Instead he said all the right things, even if he doesn’t believe them. 

“I wasn’t expecting (to be an All-Star),” Devers told reporters in Toronto. “I just go out there and play my game and if I was selected, I was selected but the fact that I wasn’t doesn’t change the way I play my game.

“Even though I didn’t make it this year doesn’t mean I won’t be able to make it next year, so I’ve just got to continue to work hard and improve every single day.”

4. AC takes Sandy from Sale

In an understandable yet still surprising move, Cora took Chris Sale’s personal catcher away against the Blue Jays. 

Sale entered last night with a 2.96 ERA throwing to Sandy Leon, but Cora gave the nod to Christian Vazquez, who sat at 6.39 with the ace. The reasoning is simple: Vazquez’s bat has been so hot that the manager didn’t want to remove him from the lineup. 

5. No right-handed bench help?

One area the Red Sox have been middling this season is hitting left-handed pitching. They entered last night batting .248 against southpaws,16th in the majors, and they’re not doing much damage either, as their .754 OPS was 15th. 

Still, Dave Dombrowski told reporters it isn’t an area he feels needs addressing before the deadline.

“No, not really. I think part of that has to deal with (Michael) Chavis,” Dombrowski said. “I do think that we’re also in a position... we’re probably in a spot where we need to stay with 13 pitchers most of the time due to our fifth starter spot right now. We don’t have a fifth starter that’s going to go out and get seven innings on a consistent basis.”

6. Internal options for the ‘pen?

They haven’t contributed out of the bullpen this season, but Dombrowski may be hitching his wagon to the idea that the Red Sox have internal candidates. 

They’re moving Nathan Eovaldi to closer, took Darwinzon Hernandez out of the Triple-A rotation to get relief reps, and named Tanner Houck as another arm that could be in the big club’s bullpen at some point this season. 

Wouldn’t it be easier to trade for a proven arm?

7. Another setback for Pearce

It’s seeming less and less likely that the Red Sox will get any sort of meaningful contribution from the reigning World Series MVP. On his most recent rehab assignment, Steve Pearce suffered another setback, this time a knee injury that could keep him out for a month.

He’s given them next to nothing in 2019. 

8. Money could have been better spent

Hindsight is always 20/20, but it’s hard not to connect the last two points. 

If Dombrowski had paid a proven reliever the $6.5 million it took to bring Pearce back, how much better off would the Red Sox be right now? 

9. RIP Tyler Skaggs

The baseball community suffered a tragic loss earlier this week, as Angels pitcher Tyler Skaggs passed away on Monday morning. He was only 27 years old.

“I’ve been saying it all along, it puts everything in perspective,” Cora said. “This is just a game. I know people take it very seriously but in the end we’re human beings and we suffer. It was a tough day (Monday) for everybody here. It was a tough one (Tuesday). Thoughts and prayers to his family, his wife, the Angels organization. We’re here for them.”

Chris Mason is a Red Sox beat writer for the Eagle-Tribune and CNHI Sports Boston. Email him at cmason@northofboston.com, and follow him on Twitter at @ByChrisMason