SAN FRANCISCO — The Red Sox called up their top prospect on Monday. But 20-year-old shortstop Xander Bogaerts wasn’t in the starting lineup against the San Francisco Giants.
Bogaerts is joining the Red Sox to provide depth on the left side of the infield and not necessarily to play every day, manager John Farrell said. The plan is to start him on Tuesday night and go from there.
“It’s definitely an exciting day,” said Bogaerts, who was playing dominos with some teammates at Triple A Pawtucket when he got a telephone call on Sunday night summoning him to Boston. “I was surprised.”
Farrell said the righthanded hitting Bogaerts would be a compliment to lefthanded hitting shortstop Stephen Drew.
“That’s not to say a platoon situation by any means,” the manager said. “We’ll look to find the best matchups.”
Drew has hit well since coming off the disabled list on July 20. But he also has hit .195 with a low .593 OPS against lefthanders this season.
Farrell said Bogaerts would also play some games at third base. But he indicated there would be more games at shortstop for the rookie.
Bogaerts hit .297 with 15 home runs and 67 RBIs in 116 games for Double A Portland and Triple A Pawtucket. He hit .298 with a .926 against lefties in Triple A. Scouts and other talent evaluators generally rate Bogaerts as one of the top three or four prospects in baseball.
“You’re talking about a young, exciting offensive player; really a very good player all around,” Farrell said. “At 20 years of age, he’s still developing. He is a person in his abilities who will give us a shot in the arm and make an impact here.”
Farrell claimed the promotion was not related to the Red Sox losing seven of 10 games and three series in a row.
“It’s an opportunity while we’re on the road to bring Xander here and get his career started,” Farrell said.
Bogaerts is the first native of Aruba in the majors since righthander Sidney Ponson in 2009. Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens, who managed Bogaerts in the World Baseball Classic, was happy to hear of the promotion.
“The more guys from the islands who come up, it makes us feel proud because our program is working, the talent is there. We put a lot of work in with these guys. Now they get here and they get to show it off,” he said.
Bogaerts was at AT&T Park for the semifinals of the WBC on March 18 but didn’t play for the Netherlands.
Middlebrooks, Farrell said, is now the backup second baseman. Given that he has never played second base, that would certainly be interesting.
• The Red Sox also made a bullpen move. Rubby De La Rosa was demoted to Triple A Pawtucket after a series of rocky outings and righthander Brayan Villarreal was called up. Villarreal, 26, was obtained from the Tigers on July 30 as part of the three-team trade that landed Jake Peavy.
“Given what we’ve had to come through the last couple of nights out of the bullpen, we needed a guy who had the ability to pitch a couple of innings, a fresh arm,” Farrell said.
Villarreal had a strong 2012 season for the Tigers, appearing in 50 games and posting a 2.63 earned run average. He struck out 66 in 54 2/3 innings and allowed only 38 hits.
Villarreal started this season with Detroit but was hit hard in seven games and dropped to Triple A Toledo. A thumb injury set him further back. He has pitched in four minor league games for the Sox and struck out five in five innings.
“He’s starting to throw the ball consistent to where he was a couple of years ago,” Farrell said. “It’s a power arm that’s got some success in the big leagues.”
• The Red Sox released righthander Jose Contreras from his minor league contract. The 41-year-old appeared in eight games for Pawtucket and did not pitch well. He allowed seven earned runs on nine hits and six walks over 9.2 innings.
• Farrell doesn’t believe Ryan Dempster should be suspended for hitting Alex Rodriguez on Sunday night, saying again that Dempster was simply pitching inside against the controversial Yankees slugger. Dempster is scheduled to face the Dodgers on Saturday.
• Mike Napoli has been out of the lineup for three consecutive games with a sore left foot. Farrell said the first baseman is responding well to treatment and should return before the end of the series.
• The Red Sox left Boston shortly after 10 a.m. and arrived in San Francisco at 1:11 p.m. local time. A bus with Farrell, the coaches and a large group of players went immediately to AT&T Park. The Sox elected to spend Sunday night in Boston rather than fly out after the Yankees game, which would have been around 2 a.m.
Jon Lester, who starts tonight, flew ahead of the team along with David Ross and Jake Peavy, who starts on Tuesday.
See Tuesday's Globe for more on Bogaerts.