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SAN FRANCISCO -- Losers of seven of their past 10 heading into a critical West Coast road trip, the Boston Red Sox on Monday called up top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
The 20-year-old Bogaerts, who becomes the youngest player on the Red Sox since Dwight Evans in 1972, did not play in Monday night's series opener against the San Francisco Giants but Red Sox manager John Farrell said Bogaerts could start Tuesday.
Farrell said he sees Bogaerts boosting the depth on the left side of the Red Sox infield, calling him a good right-handed complement at shortstop to left-handed hitting veteran Stephen Drew, though he made a point not to label it a platoon situation.
Farrell downplayed the timing of Bogaerts' promotion, saying it was more about providing depth than lighting a fire in a squad that had been scuffling.
But Farrell added, "We're talking about a young exciting offensive player, really a good player all-around at 20 years of age [who] is still developing. But [we] feel like he, as a person and with his abilities, will give us a shot in the arm and make an impact here."
All signs point to Bogaerts playing more shortstop than third base, a position he played recently with Pawtucket and in the World Baseball Classic with Team Netherlands but one he admits he's not as comfortable with, although Farrell said he'd likely see time at both positions.
Will Middlebrooks has handled third for the Red Sox since being promoted Aug. 10, and he's hitting .462 with four RBIs since rejoining Boston, so he's not likely to come out of the lineup often.
"Will Middlebrooks has done an excellent job since coming back to us," Farrell said.
The Red Sox hope Bogaerts can provide the same kind of spark the Baltimore Orioles got last season when they called up infielder Manny Machado. Bogaerts is ranked as the No. 3 overall prospect in the majors by ESPN's Keith Law, a player believed to have 30-homer potential even if his defense has room for improvement.Between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket this season, Bogaerts hit .297 with 15 homers, 67 RBIs and an .865 OPS in 116 games.
Bogaerts is likely to see action against left-handed pitchers, against whom the Red Sox have struggled this season. They're hitting a combined .252 versus southpaws, compared to .285 against right-handers. With the PawSox, Bogaerts hit .298 and had a .926 OPS against lefties.
Stephen Drew is hitting .195 in 113 at-bats against lefties this season.
The Red Sox faced right-hander Tim Lincecum on Monday.
Bogaerts said the news of his first major league call-up caught him by complete surprise.
"I was at the hotel playing dominoes with some of my [Triple-A] teammates, just having a good time," Bogaerts said Monday in San Francisco. "I was surprised by the phone call."
Bogaerts took notice when Boston traded shortstop prospect Jose Iglesias to Detroit, saying that gave him confidence that the organization views shortstop as his long-term position.
But he added, "Whatever the Red Sox organization and manager wants me to do, I'll be available."
The Red Sox embarked Monday morning on a six-game West Coast trip against the Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the hottest team in baseball.
In addition to Bogaerts, the Red Sox also activated catcher David Ross, who had been on the 60-day disabled list after a concussion in late June.
To make room for both of them, the Red Sox optioned infielder Brock Holt and catcher Ryan Lavarnway to Pawtucket.
To clear space on the 40-man roster for Bogaerts and Ross, the team put pitchers Andrew Bailey and Clay Buchholz on the 60-day DL.
The Red Sox also recalled reliever Brayan Villarreal and sent down Rubby De La Rosa.
ESPNBoston.com contributor Joe Stiglich contributed to this report from San Francisco.