Elise Amendola/Associated Press
Jackie Bradley Jr. has to beat out Grady Sizemore to win Boston's starting CF job.
With the Red Sox poised to go with a number of platoons and their rotation and bullpen largely set, they head into camp with really only a couple position battles to figure out.
Center Field: Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Grady Sizemore
The Sizemore signing was not a depth maneuver. A nonsensical platoon of two lefty swingers is not happening, and Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal warned not to count Sizemore out:
If Sizemore has his old bat speed and his old foot speed and looks anything like the player he was from 2005-08, he'll be the center fielder. That player was one of the best in the game.
MacPherson had a point...But it's also hard to see Sizemore panning out. He hasn't played in two years, and asking him to play center field on a daily basis is asking a lot of a guy with his injury history.
Besides which, let's remember that Bradley slashed .419/.507/.613 last spring. He's shown he can handle spring pitching. If he can do it again, the job will be his.
No. 5 Spot: Ryan Dempster vs. Felix Doubront
Would the Red Sox deny a guy set to make $13.25 million a chance to pitch out of their rotation?
I think it will depend on what sort of shape Doubront shows up in. If he shows up in the same sort of shape he was in last spring, it's easy to see him quickly falling out of favor and either ending up in the bullpen or on the block.
However, Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald noted that the Red Sox have been watching Doubront's conditioning like a hawk this winter. It's a solid bet that the lefty will show up in shape, in which case the Red Sox could be treated to the same pitching they got down the stretch in 2013.
I'll go out on a limb and guess that's what will happen.
The Final Bullpen Spot: Royal Rumble
Assuming the Red Sox set aside a spot in the bullpen for Dempster or Doubront, and assuming Uehara, Breslow, Miller, Tazawa and Mujica are all locked into relief roles, then the Red Sox are going to have 11 pitchers set to go for Opening Day.
That leaves one bullpen spot up for grabs between Badenhop, Workman, Wilson and Mijares.
Mijares can probably be counted out with two lefties in Breslow and Miller already set in stone. And with Wilson having posted an ugly 4.6 BB/9 in the majors in 2013 and Workman being a candidate to wait in the wings as a starter, I figure Badenhop is likely the man to beat for the job.