The Boston Red Sox catchers and pitchers report to spring training a week from this Friday and it’s a welcome sight for Boston sports fans. The Red Sox may not have wowed the critics this winter with acquisitions on the pitching side, but mark my words, this will be one of the more exciting Red Sox seasons for the casual baseball fan.
What sells in any sport? Offense. And this year’s Red Sox have a lineup that should be oozing with offensive fire power. For those already here: David Ortiz has continued to produce and stayed relatively healthy all of last season. Dustin Pedroia can’t say the same, but according to Dustin, he’s as healthy as he’s been in two years after completing his third surgery on his hand this offseason.
“I just got a chance to lift weights with my upper body – It’s been a while,” Pedroia said. “I was kind of shriveled up. But not any more. The biggest thing was just lifting weights. That’s part of what makes me good is being able to work out in the offseason and build up.”
Don’t forget about Mike Napoli at first base. I actually think there’s a chance Napoli could be trade bait this season, as he’s in the final year of his deal. Nonetheless, Napoli is a contributor on the offensive side. For many who don’t know, Napoli struggled mightily from Sleep Apnea, a Hyper-extender finger and a toe injury last season. The sleep apnea got so bad, he considered retirement. After multiple surgeries, he’ll be back in the offensive fold.
Now for the new-comers: Rusney Castillo is a highly touted star in Cuba on both offense and in the outfield. He got his deal and pimped out his new ride with Xzibit and the gang, but that’s not all he’s been up to. He and Mookie Betts have worked out together at the Boston Red Sox rookie development camp at Harvard. Castillo played winter ball in Puerto Rico and in the Arizona Fall League right before.
Switch-hitter Pablo Sandoval signed for five years with the Red Sox and has the potential to be a 20 homerun guy in Fenway. In his seven-year career, Sandoval, who I refuse to ever call Panda, has hit 106 homeruns with a career batting average of .294. The guy will bring a spark on offense.
On to Hanley Ramirez, who will be a fun storyline off the field as well. Hanley is a power-hitter as well and will battle for the short stop position with Xander Bogaerts and that competition will likely shift Bogaerts to third base. Ramirez could also find himself at third base, a position the Red Sox found difficult to fill last season. Ramirez has 191 homeruns in nine seasons with a .300 average.
The excitement doesn’t end there for Red Sox fans because you’ll also have the chance to watch the development of a few new names. One mentioned earlier is Mookie Betts, who played last season and didn’t disappoint. He’s got tremendous skill and is likely the long-term answer at second base, but the Red Sox will have no problem finding him a home. He has played outfield, second base, first base, short stop and third base if I remember correctly.
Blake Swihart is another one Sox fans can attach themselves to. Swihart is the number one rated prospect at catcher in Major League Baseball and likewise on the Red Sox. He’s the 17th ranked prospect for all positions in baseball and the Red Sox could use a rock at catcher.
This Red Sox lineup could break a record for runs scored in a season, a record held by Boston from back in 1894 – I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, but the point is this team is stacked. And they’ll have to be offensively sound with questionable starting pitching.
Strap up fans, this is going to be a fun year to be a fan of the Boston Red Sox.