COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox have now played a couple weeks of spring training, and the players are starting to get stretched out.
It's still early, but there have been a few Red Sox players who have started the spring very well at the plate. A few extra hits in spring training could mean the difference between starting the season in the minors and starting it with the big-league club.
Honorable Mention: Juan Carlos Linares
Spring training stats: AVG: .389, R: 2, HR: 1, RBI: 5, SB: 0
Linares is a 28-year-old player from Cuba who should begin the season in Pawtucket. He is unlikely to start for the Red Sox in the foreseeable future but could be called up at some point for outfield depth. He's considered a pretty solid fielder and has been good at the plate so far this spring. His .389 average is great, and he has a home run to go along with five RBIs.
I'm not sure there's anything he can do to make the 25-man roster out of spring training, but he's certainly giving it his best shot.
Spring training stats: AVG: .350, R: 2, HR: 0, RBI: 4, SB: 3
As I discussed in an article about Red Sox position battles, Ciriaco is likely to make the team as the utility infielder. I think he's due to regress a bit at the plate, but he hasn't shown any signs of that so far in spring training. The scrappy style he displayed in the regular season last year is still apparent. He's kept his average up and stolen three bases, reinforcing his status as a speed threat off the bench. If he continues playing like this, he will eliminate any possibility of Brock Holt stealing his spot on the roster.
Spring training stats: AVG: .385, R: 2, HR: 1, RBI: 3, SB: 0
Pedroia is a lock to start at second base and as a result, his spring training performance is not as significant. Players fighting for a roster spot tend to get more of the focus when it comes to March baseball.
Still, it's nice to see that he seems ready to go. He homered against the Rays and has already drawn a few walks, something that will be important if he bats out of his typical two slot in the order. For the Red Sox to remain competitive they will need a lot of production out of the top of their order, and Pedroia is an integral part of that.
Spring training stats: AVG: .444, R: 5, HR: 0, RBI: 5, SB: 1
Jackie Bradley Jr. has been possibly the most impressive player at camp thus far. He's hit for a very high average and scored a team-high five runs. Apparently, he also has great work ethic and even works hard in the field during batting practice, trying to improve his route on flyballs. He's the Red Sox's No. 2 prospect and could be in the starting lineup at soon as next season.
He is a candidate to replace Jacoby Ellsbury if he leaves when he becomes a free agent at the end of the season. He has the potential to be a guy who hits at the top of the lineup and to be an above-average defender.
On April 1, the Red Sox will step on the field in New York and everyone will start from scratch. But for the players working hard to earn a spot on the team, these games are anything but meaningless.
George M. Helmholtz has been around baseball his whole life. He grew up in the Boston area and spent four years working for the Hyannis Mets and the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox of the Cape Cod baseball league.
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