Ex-Red Sox Xander Bogaerts returns to Boston with Padres

Red Sox

Bogaerts was seen meeting with Alex Cora, Sam Kennedy, and Ceddanne Rafaela on the field before Friday’s game.

The Red Sox played a tribute video for Xander Bogaerts in his first visit to Fenway Park since siging with the Padres in Dec. 2022. AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

For the first time as a San Diego Padre, Xander Bogaerts stepped foot inside Fenway Park on Friday.

The former longtime Boston shortstop won’t be competing against the Red Sox this weekend as he recovers from a shoulder fracture he sustained last month. However, Bogaerts, who played in Boston for the first decade of his MLB career, opted to make the trip with his teammates to his old stomping grounds.  

The 31-year-old was asked about his decision to leave the Red Sox and sign with the Padres in Dec. 2022 for a massive 11-year, $280 million contract while speaking with reporters ahead of Friday’s game.

“I’m happy and I feel like they’re happy also,” Bogaerts said. “I’m very happy with the decision I made, to be honest. San Diego is one of the best cities that you can have.”

He also said that there’s no love lost between him and the Red Sox following his decision to sign elsewhere two offseasons ago.

“I’m very appreciative of them. Players, coaches, front office was always really nice to me and my family and I really don’t have no hard feelings at all toward them,” he said.

During batting practice on Friday, Bogaerts reunited with manager Alex Cora and president Sam Kennedy. Bogaerts also chatted with current Red Sox shortstop/center fielder Ceddanne Rafaela before the game. Bogaerts and Rafaela both hail from islands of the Kingdom of the Netherlands — Aruba and Curaçao, respectively.

Bogaerts explained that he and Rafaela communicate with one another, and were texting the other day. Bogaerts praised the 23-year-old and his impressive start to the year.

“He’s got it, man. It’s elite in short and center. It’s not something that a lot of guys can say that they can do,” he said. “When he hits, I think with him it’s patience. The more he learns the strike zone, the more he plays, the more better he’ll get, that’s for sure. He works hard and has a lot of talent, that’s for sure. He has a good mindset.”

Bogaerts joined the Red Sox organization as an international free agent, similar to Rafaela, in 2009 at just 16 years old. He was called up to the majors in 2013 and made his mark as one of the faces of the team over the next decade.

Bogaerts didn’t think fans would recognize him while walking around Boston on Thursday despite his lengthy Red Sox tenure. He said they proved him wrong.

“I was walking around yesterday and it was crazy,” Bogaerts said. “It’s like, I wasn’t expecting so many people to remember me. That was actually a little cool.”

Boston fans gave their 2018 World Series champion shortstop a warm standing ovation as the Red Sox showed a tribute video of Bogaerts during Friday’s game.

Watch the video and the fans’ applause here:

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