McDonald, like Boston’s coaches, has been taken aback by Bogaerts’ openness to instruction.
“Not everybody is willing to learn,” said McDonald. “This is the big leagues, and a lot of times when guys get here, there’s the thought that you know everything. You’ve made it, and you don’t need any help; now you just need to go play. Unfortunately for most of us, that’s not the case. The key is, when you get there, you’ve got to work harder. Now you have to figure out, ‘I got here and I’m pretty good. How can I get better? How can I be better than the other guys I’m playing with and against?’
“You have to be willing to learn, and it impresses me how much he wants to get better. Even though he’s really good, he doesn’t make you feel that way. He wants to learn from everybody. He wants to figure out ways to always take his game to the next level. He doesn’t want to leave here.”
Boston Red Sox games must have been a psychiatrist’s dream last season, given all of the apparent dysfunction and frustration, given all of the telling body language.
Most managers and pitching coaches stand relatively close together during games, but Bobby Valentine and Bob McClure often were far apart — and there were instances when McClure visited a struggling pitcher on the mound, returned to the dugout and sat without reporting back to Valentine.
Not surprisingly, McClure did not last the season.
I remember watching a Red Sox pitcher stare down Valentine, like he was aiming lasers, as the manager made a slow walk to the mound. Sometimes, infielders preferred to stay at their position rather than participate in the meetings, because of lingering issues.
And this all started even before the first day of spring training. When the players learned about some of the drills that Valentine had planned for them, including one in which they hit the ball to teammates using a fungo bat, the players couldn’t believe it.
Midway through the season, one player summed up the mental state of the Red Sox: “Everybody hates everybody.”