By Brian Garland
Fort Myers, FL Here’s something you may have heard before: Chris Sale is on the Boston Red Sox. It really happened. Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Tampa Bay should be a sneak preview for w hat is to come, and that’s power pitching. All eyes were on the long left-hander, and he did not disappoint. On offense, the Red Sox came out swinging from the start and received contributions from some not-so-familiar faces: Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval. They drove in a run each in the third inning, and that was all that new Red Sox ace Chris Sale needed. There can only be so much to take away from a Spring Training game, but it’s a reminder that spring is coming soon and winter will be sent down to the minors where it belongs.
These games don’t count, but they’re much more fun to look at than the snow and rain outside. Our own staff writer Alyssa Raymond was at the game Saturday and I’m not sure whether to be impressed or jealous at the pictures she took. I’ll just be both. While it looks like the starting pitching will be excellent this season, the offense is more of an unknown. For one, the Red Sox will adjust to without their clutch-hitting designated hitter David Ortiz. The Red Sox were statistically a Top 5 offense last year, but they’ ll have to replace Ortiz’s leadership. Also, his 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.
Even if the question is what players will be on the roster this season is answered, the greater question is where to put them. Acquiring Chris Sale was a major trade, but there are other deals they made that raise questions. At third base, the Red Sox traded their former starter Travis Shaw as well as the prospect they groomed to be the future third baseman, Yoan Moncada. Spring Training is the much-needed time for the Red Sox to ease into the return of Pablo Sandoval, who is expected to be a starter again for the first time since May 2015. There are enough “best shape of his life!” stories to go around about Pablo Sandoval, but he looks like he’ll break more bats than belts this season. The batting order is one small reason to watch these “meaningless” games. Red Sox manager John Farrell says Dustin Pedroia is expected to be the full-time leadoff hitter, and Pedroia led off in this game. Mookie Betts batted third and Hanley Ramirez batted fourth.
This could be a unique case with Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr. and other presumptive starters getting the day off. The defending AL East Champion Red Sox start the 2017 regular season in just three weeks, and all these questions of who goes where will finally be answered. Until next time.