BOSTON -- They are the twin pillars of hope in an otherwise upside-down Red Sox season, and on the day that David Price reminded us how his definition of "good teammate" might not jibe with yours or mine, let us salute Xander Bogaerts and Rafael Devers.
The homegrown stars bring a missing vibe to the lineup on a nightly basis. When either steps into the box, you can feel the confidence pouring off them like steam. Bogaerts has never looked more comfortable, especially with runners on base, his at-bats a study in composure and patience. When he gets his pitch, he's no longer looking to dunk it to right field. He's trying to shatter a windshield, as his 21 homers and 74 RBIs attest.
Devers, meanwhile, doesn't even know how good he is, because he raises that ceiling with virtually every swing. Overnight he has become one of the toughest outs in baseball, a line drive machine who covers every inch of the plate — and a few beyond it — while barreling rockets to all corners of the park.
On Wednesday night, both played key roles in a bounce-back victory over the Blue Jays. Bogaerts set the tone by doubling on a grounder through the shortstop hole, his breathtaking acceleration around first shocking Blue Jays center fielder Teoscar Hernandez, along with everyone else in the park.
Devers, meanwhile, maintained his relentless assault on the American League leaderboards with an opposite-field homer that saw him blazing around first before it found the seats as part of a 3-for-5, four-RBI night. After not driving in a run for the first 12 games of the season or hitting a homer for the first 32, Devers suddenly finds himself hitting .326 with 18 homers and 70 RBIs.
In a season where nothing has come easily — including Wednesday's 5-4 victory — Devers and Bogaerts represent an oasis. If we could watch them alternate at-bats all season, baseball might not have to worry about losing the next generation of fans.
It was hard to miss the juxtaposition of their joyful play vs. the pregame scene of Price once again blasting broadcaster Dennis Eckersley over the latter's relatively benign quotes in a Boston Globe profile.
Price wondered why we were still talking about their 2017 confrontation on a team charter, and why Eckersley couldn't let it go. He also egregiously suggested that the Hall of Famer had no friends during his playing days, based on what sounded like the partial viewing of an MLB Network documentary. Price said the doc quoted no players except Eckersley; that was factually inaccurate. Former teammates from Bruce Hurst to Mark McGwire to Fred Lynn, among others, were featured.
Watching Price demand a chance to apologize, as if he had somehow become the victim — instead of the man he ambushed — was flat-out distasteful. It also made you wonder what he enjoys about playing in Boston to be carrying around that kind of seething resentment.
But we're not here to dwell on Price. This is about the opposite end of that spectrum inhabited by Bogaerts and Devers, two young players with bright futures who approach each game with an infectious delight. It's almost like they're the only two players who haven't received the memo that repeating as champions is a hopeless, joyless slog towards doom.
With the toughest portion of the schedule looming — 14 straight games against the Yankees and Rays — the Red Sox will need Bogaerts and Devers to be better than ever.
Something tells me they'll deliver. But will there be anyone with them?
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