With Daisuke Matsuzaka’s late start and Clay Buchholz’ fine spring performances, the 2010 Red Sox’ starting rotation is achieving some predictability: Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Wakefield.
Although not as finalized, a bullpen is forming that centers around Daniel Bard, Manny Delcarmen, Hideki Okajima, Ramon Ramirez, and Jonathan Papelbon. Top candidates to fill perhaps two final spots are Scott Atchison and Brian Shouse, both of whom have delivered strong springs and one of whom is a much needed lefty.
Little doubt exists regarding the starting position players and most of the bench. Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek will lock down the dish. Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Marco Scutaro, and Adrian Beltre will outline the diamond and roll their double plays. And flanked by Jacoby Ellsbury and J.D. Drew, Mike Cameron will anchor the outfield.
David Ortiz will try to put it back together at designated hitter. Mike Lowell will back the corners. Jeremy Hermida will give the outfielders a day of rest.
And that leaves us with reserve middle infield.
Here are the candidates, from least to most likely.