We all have our ideas of what it should and shouldn't be. We all know what it's likely to look like, whether we agree with it or not. It's something that has been hotly debated ever since the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford were announced- but at last, Michael Vega of the Globe is reporting that at long last Terry Francona has announced what the lineup will be on opening day.
There is a caveat. Francona has made it abundantly clear in the last days that the lineup fielded last night is the one that "he is comfortable with." Because the Rangers' opening day starter, C.J. Wilson is absolutely devastating against left-handed batters, the lineup on opening day is not necessarily what he views as his typical lineup with this group of players. Most likely, the main lineup is what we'll see the rest of this series and when the Sox finally return to Fenway (I'm eagerly counting the minutes).
So, without further ado, the lineup is right after the break:
There are two oddities that stand out to me- first is that Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who, while a switch hitter, is better from the left side, is starting game one instead of our venerable captain, Varitek, who is better from the right side. I thought for sure that Tek's veteran status combined with his superior ability as a right handed batter would make it an easy decision to give Tek the honors. That being said, Salty's hitting of late has been making Carlton Fisk in his prime look like a backup catcher, so it's hard to complain about this decision- especially when you factor in the excitement I'm sure Salty feels to be facing the team he struggled so much for.
The second item of note looks to me like a positive- Mike Cameron will be appearing in Right field instead of JD Drew. Francona has made a point of saying that he does not see the two players as a straight platoon (though will anyone be surprised if they are at the end of the year?). Now, don't get me wrong- I am a huge fan of Drew, and I'm hoping that this year he will recover his usual ability to hit lefties, so I am glad that they aren't necessarily starting the year as a straight platoon. What I see as a positive about this is that Francona is showing right off the bat the he will probably be less afraid to sub for his veteran players if there is someone who will give the team a better chance to win; supposedly Francona has already had a discussion with Ortiz that he may occasionally be sitting against tough lefty pitchers.
Other than those, this is pretty much what I expected coming into today. Youkilis and Gonzalez seem likely to switch depending on whether there is a left- or right-handed pitcher on the mound.
This isn't the lineup I would've chosen, but really, it's hard to go wrong with this group of guys. I don't expect it to necessarily be the same lineup at the end of the year, but I'll be thrilled if it is, mainly because that will indicate that no one has gone through a significant slump in the year and that we'll be well on our way to a (hopefully) deep playoff run.