As Xander Bogaerts can attest, Rafael Devers is all grown up


SAN DIEGO - This had nothing to do with Rafael Devers finally wrestling the dinner bill away from Xander Bogaerts Thursday night. That, evidently, was less a product of torch-passing than wallet-losing.

And this wasn't really even about the two home runs Devers launched in front of his former teammate in what would be a Red Sox' 6-1 win over the Padres Friday night.

The definition of Devers becoming the new face of the Red Sox' organization was about all that led up to this season without Bogaerts, with the punctuation coming via confirmation from the shortstop before their Southern California get-together.

"It is," said Bogaerts when told Alex Cora had proclaimed a few weeks earlier that this was Devers' team and he knew it. "And I think he’s the perfect guy, perfect person for that. That’s a bad man. He’s very dangerous when he’s up there and obviously we know his defense is getting better every year and he wants to improve but his bat will make you pay big time."

"It makes me very happy to hear that he says those things about me and even more when we're such good friends," said Devers through a translator after hitting his 12th and 13th homers of the season. "And it means a lot to me. It means a lot to me, those words coming out of his mouth because of what he’s represented for this organization and what he means for me. So yeah, it's very nice."

You aren't going to find many who still don't feel Bogaerts should be a Red Sox, with the 30-year-old shortstop certainly harboring those sentiments throughout most of last year. But what is done is done, and what is done hasn't been all that bad for all involved.

Bogaerts got his 11-year, $280 million contract on a team that - while currently underperforming - should be built for sustained success.

The Red Sox have found a way to construct a batting order around Devers that has worked swimmingly, with players like Rob Refnsyder, Justin Turner and Masa Yoshida supplying the lineup protection some were worried the Sox' star would be lacking.

And then there is how this all timed out for the third baseman.

Devers' numbers aren't yet at the MVP levels many predicted, with the two-hit night putting him with a .264 batting average and .864 OPS. But he is a player who currently has the most extra-base hits in the majors (25) while sitting in the Top 5 for total bases.

Most importantly, he has taken the step forward the Red Sox' desperately needed once Bogaerts left town.

It's an evolution that has been existed since Fort Myers, but simply highlighted thanks to the guy who used to pay for all of Devers meals.

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