After a disappointing finish to last season for the Boston Red Sox, a new season is right around the corner as pitchers and catchers reported to spring training on Feb. 18.
The Red Sox finished last in the American league east last season, with a record of 24-36 in the shortened 60-game COVID season last year.
Alex Cora will be back as the skipper for the Sox after serving his suspension through the end of the 2020 postseason for his involvement in the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal back in 2017.
Chief baseball officer, Chaim Bloom, along with Cora, believe that the team can make some noise this year and make a run at the playoffs.
The biggest issue for the team last year was lack of depth with their pitching staff. They expect a better performance with their ace Chris Sale coming back after undergoing Tommy John Surgery last year.
Eduardo Rodriguez will also be back in the rotation after he missed last season with a heart complication due to COVID-19.
Both pitchers have already started to throw full bullpen, and both feel good, but Bloom said they are going to be smart about easing them back into baseball activity to not cause any setbacks.
Cora pointed to improving the pitching staff as his top priority coming into spring training.
Another big question is how the outfield is going to look this year as every member of “win, dance, repeat” is no longer on the team.
After 2018 American league MVP Mookie Betts was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the beginning of last year, left fielder Andrew Benintendi was traded to the Kansas City Royals a few weeks ago, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is still a free agent.
Right now, Alex Verdugo, Franchy Cordero and Hunter Renfroe are the projected opening day starters in the outfield.
Verdugo was a part of the Betts trade and came over to Boston from Los Angeles. Cordero came from Kansas City in the Benintendi trade. Renfroe signed with the Red Sox as a free agent this past December.
But Bloom has said that they have not ruled out resigning Bradley Jr. and that they are still in constant contact with him hoping to get a deal done.
J.D Martinez was in a slump for most of the 2020 season and Cora put a $5 bet on Martinez bouncing back from his worst statistical season of his career only batting .214.
Cora had to put $5 on it because Martinez joked that he did not believe Cora had trust in him to bounce back after saying a few weeks prior that he’d bet a dollar that he would.
Xander Bogaerts is the leader of the infield and is coming back looking to produce another all-star caliber season.
The young third baseman, Rafael Devers, looks to continue to develop and improve on his defensive struggles. He led the majors last year with 14 fielding errors in the shortened season.
Dustin Pedroia announced his retirement in early February after having a major setback with his left knee that he has been dealing with since 2017.
Enrique Hernandez looks as though he is the front runner to be the Red Sox second baseman on opening day this year.
Catcher Christian Vazquez, a leader on the team, says he feels good coming into spring training after losing 10 pounds this offseason.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced that after March 22, stadiums in Massachusetts can seat 12% of the capacity. This is the first time since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic fans will be in the stands.
Opening day is slated to be on April 1 when the Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles at 2:10 at Fenway Park.