ORACLE PARK — Mauricio Dubon had spent eight of his last 12 hours on a bus by the time he walked in the front door at 9 p.m.
Bleary-eyed and tired, Dubon, then a Boston Red Sox prospect, had just gotten home from a spring training game against the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla. He saw a Tupperware on the counter: Chicken, lettuce and rice, dinner prepared by his roommate, World Series champion Xander Bogaerts.
Bogaerts had taken the 22-year-old Dubon into his care that spring, and along with other members of the Boston organization, helped the Honduran second baseman realize his Major League dream. When he takes the field at Fenway Park on Tuesday with the San Francisco Giants, the historic venue won’t matter to him so much as the people.
“They taught me how to play the game the right way,” Dubon said last week in the Giants clubhouse.
Dubon specifically cited interim general manager Raquel Ferreira and third base coach Carlos Febles (his manager in Single-A and Double-A) as major parts of his development. He hoped to see them when the team arrived in Boston, and had already set up a catch-up session with now-star third baseman Rafael Devers.
“He was one of my brothers coming up,” Dubon said.
Now hitting .302 with three home runs and six RBIs in 16 games for San Francisco, Dubon was originally drafted by the Red Sox in the 26th round in 2013. He got a paltry signing bonus and a ticket to Ft. Myers, Fla., where he met Devers, then just a 16-year-old undrafted Dominican signee who didn’t speak English.
Dubon had benefitted from the kindness of others since a Sacramento-based missionary group granted his mother’s wish, and plucked him from Honduras at the age of 15 to come to the United States to play baseball. Two families — the Ritcheys and the Garcias — welcomed him into their homes and took him to Giants games.
When Devers arrived, Dubon paid that forward, acting as de facto translator and introducing Devers to American baseball. Having attended a bilingual school in Honduras before his two years at Capital Christian in Sacramento, Dubon was effectively bilingual. The two became roommates.
“He was not old enough to drive,” Dubon said. “So, I used to drive. He’d buy the food sometimes. I’d buy the food sometimes. He’d cook.”
Cuban defector Yoán Moncada joined the two at Single-A Greenville in 2015, and the three became each other’s support system, sharing an apartment.
Dubon was the first of them to reach Fenway, after a fashion. In 2014, Dubon and the Lowell Spinners — Boston’s short-season affiliate — played in the Futures at Fenway, a chance for low-level minor leaguers to experience the historic park.
Dubon arrived early to take a self-guided tour. He went inside the Green Monster. He poked around the bullpen. He walked the concourse. He hiked out to the lone red seat in the right field stands — marking the stadium’s longest recorded home run — and sat in it. That day, he went 1-for-4, driving in the first run of the game with a fourth-inning single. The Spinners lost 6-1.
“It was crazy. It’s crazy history. I mean, it’s crazy,” Dubon said. “The whole experience playing in Fenway, it was very special, because coming up with the Boston system, that’s the only thing you want to do.”
In 2016, Dubon got another taste of big league baseball in spring training. Though not on the roster, he was highly-regarded, and hit .286 in seven games with the Red Sox. He was the only minor leaguer Boston brought for an exhibition game in Montreal. Ferreira, then a player development exec, said hi to him every day.
It was Bogaerts’ kindness, though, that stood out. Already an established big leaguer, Bogaerts insisted Dubon stay with him in his apartment. “He wouldn’t let me pay a dime,” Dubon said.
They played soccer, basketball and FIFA video games together. When Dubon would get home from a road trip, he’d find a nice polo shirt or other piece of clothing on his bed — gifts from Bogaerts — and the occasional late-night dinner.
“He knew I didn’t eat well,” Dubon said. “He was in my shoes before. It was special.”
Dubon hit .323 with 30 stolen bases in 37 attempts that season between High-A Salem with Devers, and Double-A Portland. In September, he returned to Fenway to receive organizational awards alongside Moncada and Devers before a game against the Yankees.
Dubon and Moncada were traded on the same day during that December’s Winter Meetings. Moncada was shipped off to the White Sox, and Dubon became the No. 3 prospect in the Brewers’ system. Vice president of player development Ben Crocket called Dubon in Honduras at 7 a.m. to tell him. Dubon didn’t even know where Milwaukee was.
“They did that for me because they had Xander and [Dustin] Pedroia at the time,” Dubon said. “I was really sad, but that’s business. What we had together, coming up, it was crazy.”
The three reunited at the 2017 Futures Game in Miami, but that was the last time Dubon saw Devers. It’s been longer with Bogaerts.
When another trade this July brought Dubon back to Northern California, to the team he loved as a teenager, he got a text. Bogaerts knew the Giants were coming to town in September.
“Just keep having fun,” Bogaerts said. “You’re going to take me to dinner soon.”
Dubon intends to this week.