COMMENTARY | The bags are packed, the 25-man roster has been selected (allegedly), and yes, it's time for the start of the season. While the Boston Red Sox are dealing with a few injuries to potential key contributors, there are still plenty of options for the starting lineup. Here is a look at what it may look like to open the season.
1. Jacoby Ellsbury (CF)- It wasn't a productive spring for Ellsbury, but he's still the easy choice at the leadoff position. When healthy, Ellsbury has been the leadoff man for the Sox for the past five years. The soon-to-be free agent will look to have a similar year to 2001, where he finished 2nd in the MVP race.
Other Possibilities- Jackie Bradley Jr, Shane Victorino
2. Shane Victorino (RF)- Hitting just .179 in spring training while also struggling in the World Baseball Classic, may mean the leash is short for Victorino. He will be starting games, but possibly moving down the lineup if he can't get going.
Other Possibilities- Dustin Pedroia, Jackie Bradley Jr.
3. Dustin Pedroia (2B)- The versatile veteran could essentially hit anywhere outside of leading-off (.253 BA in the one-hole). Pedroia will probably move around this season, especially when David Ortiz comes back. However, look for him to stick in the three-hole for now. It should also be noted that he is a career .397 in the cleanup spot if needed.
Other Possibilities- Will Middlebrooks
4. Mike Napoli (1B)- Napoli spent the spring absolutely crushing the ball. An instant fan-favorite, Napoli will be the power bat that the Sox will rely upon until Ortiz gets back from injury. Napoli also has a lot at stake this season, since he is playing for a longer contract than he received this year. The Green Monster is probably already scared of getting pelted often by the powerful first baseman.
Other Possibilities- Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia
5. Will Middlebrooks (3B)- It was a rollercoaster of a spring for Middlebrooks, who ended up with a .327 BA and 8 RBIs. The young third baseman is looking to get right back to where he left off before a season-ending injury in August of 2012. Considering the talent ahead of him, Middlebrooks should have ample opportunity to drive in runs.
Other Possibilities- Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes
6. Jonny Gomes (DH)- It was an outstanding spring for the big swinger. Gomes belted three HRs, while hitting over .300. With Ortiz on the shelf, Gomes will be starting most games at DH early in the season. He may also get the hook in a few games early against right-handed pitching f he's slow out of the gate. However, Gomes certainly has the ability to positively impact games with one swing of the bat.
Other Possibilities- Will Middlebrooks, Mike Carp
7. Jarod Saltalamacchia (C)- The switch-hitting catcher belted 25 HRs in 2012, and with potentially more playing time, will look for even more this season. Saltalamacchia had a productive spring and by all accounts is 100% healthy and ready to go for the season.
Other Possibilities- David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Mike Carp
8. Jackie Bradley Jr. (LF)- The kid is going to get his chance. After finishing spring training with an average of .441, Bradley is seemingly going to be the starting leftfielder. While he could be higher in the lineup, Bradley will start here to keep the pressure down. He also could help the bottom of the lineup be more productive if he hits anywhere near what he just accomplished in spring ball.
Other Possibilities- Daniel Nava, Pedro Ciriaco, David Ross
9. Jose Iglesias (SS)- With Stephen Drew out with a concussion, Iglesias will finally get an opportunity to play every day. The magnifying glass will be focused on the young shortstop, considering he has yet to show anything at the plate in the big leagues. Iglesias swung the bat well in the spring, hitting .297, and even showed some power with a homerun.
Other Possibilities- Jackie Bradley Jr., Shane Victorino, Pedro Ciriaco, David Ross
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox.You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mike Napoli
- Dustin Pedroia
- Jackie Bradley Jr
- Shane Victorino
- Jonny Gomes
- Jacoby Ellsbury