After enduring one of the worst seasons in franchise history last year, the 2013 Boston Red Sox are looking to right the ship and make it back to the postseason for the first time in four years.
However, even with the hiring of John Farrell as manager and several moves in free agency, the path back to October will not be an easy one, especially in the hyper-competitive American League East.
The Red Sox made a point of getting rid of anyone they didn't feel fit their model or didn't look like they were going to be worth the money they were owed, sending Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett to Los Angeles last August.
General manager Ben Cherington is trying to make his mark with this franchise, similar to what Theo Epstein did when he took over the team back in 2002. He is trying to change the culture in Boston, but the road back to the World Series will not be an easy one.
As you look around Red Sox camp this spring and see new faces like Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, Ryan Dempster, Joel Hanrahan and Jonny Gomes, as well as returning players like Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, David Ortiz and Clay Buchholz, you can see good things coming.
But the question will be whether or not the depth is there, as well as how healthy those players will be this season, if the Red Sox are to be a force in the East once again.
Here is a look at the Red Sox in spring training, including what we expect their final roster to look like, the projected starting lineup and daily updates from Fort Myers, Florida.
David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia are the key cogs in the Red Sox lineup.
|Jon Lester, LHP||SP|
|Clay Buchholz, RHP||SP|
|Ryan Dempster, RHP||SP|
|John Lackey, RHP||SP|
|Felix Doubront, LHP||SP|
|Franklin Morales, RHP||RP|
|Andrew Bailey, RHP||RP|
|Alfredo Aceves, RHP||RP|
|Craig Breslow, LHP||RP|
|Daniel Bard, RHP||RP|
|Andrew Miller, LHP||RP|
|Joel Hanrahan, RHP||RP|
|1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF|
|2. Shane Victorino, RF|
|3. Dustin Pedroia, 2B|
|4. David Ortiz, DH|
|5. Mike Napoli, 1B|
|6. Will Middlebrooks, 3B|
|7. Jonny Gomes, LF|
|8. David Ross, C|
|9. Stephen Drew, SS|
|No. 1 Starter: Jon Lester, LHP|
|No. 2 Starter: Clay Buchholz, RHP|
|No. 3 Starter: Ryan Dempster, RHP|
|No. 4 Starter: John Lackey, RHP|
|No. 5 Starter: Felix Doubront, LHP|
|Reliever: Franklin Morales, LHP|
|Reliever: Alfredo Aceves, RHP|
|Reliever: Craig Breslow, LHP|
|Setup Reliever: Andrew Miller, LHP|
|Setup Reliever: Daniel Bard, RHP|
|Setup Reliever: Andrew Bailey, RHP|
|Closer: Joel Hanrahan, RHP|
Boston Red Sox defeat Minnesota Twins 7-3
WP: Ryan Dempster
LP: Mike Pelfrey
Red Sox Player of the Game: 3B Will Middlebrooks
1-for-3, 2B, 3 RBI
It was a good day overall for the Red Sox, as free-agent acquisition Ryan Dempster gave them four solid innings in his start, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and walked as part of a 2-for-3 day.
Will Middlebrooks supplied the big blow on offense, hitting a bases-clearing three-run double in the top of the second. The third baseman, who missed the last two months of the season with a broken wrist, is hitting .261 this spring.
What's on deck?
The Red Sox will stay on the road Friday for a 1:05 p.m. ET start against the Baltimore Orioles. Clayton Mortensen is scheduled to start against Zach Britton.
Boston Red Sox defeat Toronto Blue Jays 5-3
WP: Clay Buchholz
LP: Justin Germano
Red Sox Player of the Game: 1B Mike Napoli
2-for-3, 2B, RBI, K
On a day where the Red Sox offense really spread the wealth, Napoli did have one of his best days of the spring. He hit an RBI single in the bottom of the third and added a double to center field in the bottom of the fifth.
With David Ortiz's heel acting up, the Red Sox are going to depend on Napoli to provide the punch in the middle of the lineup until he gets back. Whether that happens one week into the season or one month, Napoli has proven himself capable of being the centerpiece of a lineup in the past.
It is not an ideal scenario for Napoli to be in, as he has had issues with right-handed pitching in the past. The fact that he is showing power in the spring is a positive sign, though, especially considering all the hurdles it took just to get him under contract.
What's on deck?
The Red Sox have an off day on Wednesday before traveling to Lee County Sports Complex to take on the Minnesota Twins on Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Ryan Dempster will get the start for the Red Sox opposite Mike Pelfrey for the Twins.
Miami Marlins defeat Boston Red Sox 8-7
WP: Chris Hatcher
LP: Chris Carpenter
Red Sox Player of the Game: CF Jackie Bradley, Jr.
3-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 1 Run Scored, 1 BB
Even though Bradley will start the season in Triple-A, he is giving the Red Sox and their fans a glimpse of what is in store when they eventually call him up (likely at some point in 2013). He is hitting .519 this spring with an 1.108 OPS.
We know that spring stats can always be deceiving, so take that with a grain of salt. Against the Marlins, Bradley went 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle. He is the Red Sox's center fielder of the future. Given the health issues Jacoby Ellsbury has had throughout his career, the future could be sooner than you think.
What's on deck?
The Red Sox will go back home to JetBlue Park on Tuesday to take on American League East rival Tampa Bay at 1:35 p.m. ET.
Clay Buchholz will make his third start of the spring. He has looked strong thus far, allowing just three hits, two walks, no runs and and striking out six in 4.1 innings. The Blue Jays will counter with Justin Germano.
Baltimore Orioles 5, Boston Red Sox 2
WP: Dylan Bundy
LP: Felix Doubront
S: Zach Clark
Red Sox Player of the Game: RP Andrew Miller
There wasn't a lot of great individual performances from the Red Sox on Saturday. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Mitch Maier were the only two offensive players with more than one hit.
But Miller was an easy choice as the standout pitcher of the day for the team, striking out two in his one inning of work. The Red Sox are expecting to have a very deep bullpen, but they can always use left-handed relievers capable of missing bats.
Last season, Miller, a former first-round pick with the Detroit Tigers, looked like he had finally found his niche as a lefty specialist. He struck out 33 left-handed hitters in 87 at-bats in 2012.
So far this spring, Miller has four strikeouts and just one walk in three innings of work. He has yet to allow a run.
Bad News for David Ortiz
It has been a quiet spring for David Ortiz, mainly because he hasn't been able to play due to the Achilles injury that robbed him of 72 games in 2012.
On Saturday, Ian Browne of MLB.com reported that Ortiz could start the season on the DL after undergoing an MRI.
Even though the team hasn't officially decided what to do with the superstar designated hitter right now, Browne reports: "It wouldn't be surprising if" a trip to the DL is in order. That would be a huge blow to the lineup, though the Red Sox do have depth to withstand the loss better this year.
Mike Carp and Mike Napoli can alternate between playing first base and designated hitter in the event Ortiz has to miss time. But this was certainly not the news the Red Sox wanted just three weeks from Opening Day.
What's on Deck?
The Red Sox will travel to the Charlotte Sports Park on Sunday to take on another division rival in Tampa Bay. It is going to be a noteworthy day, as John Lackey will be making his third start of the spring.