Elsewhere on the internets, there's constant talk of some random amateur sport. Not entirely sure why. Fortunately, we're sticking to baseball around here. Let's get to recapping.
We continued our running series of spring training profiles, examining each player on the squad through the lens of one key skill, tool, or injury. This week, we looked at John Lackey and his return from Tommy John surgery, Alfredo Aceves and his fastball velocity, Jacoby Ellsbury and whether his power will return, and asked if Ryan Dempster can succeed in the American League.
While spring training stats can't tell us too much, one thing the spring can definitely reveal is managerial tendencies. Last year, for example, although most of us played it down, we got a fun glimpse of how Bobby Valentine would work with his new squad when he dressed down Mike Aviles in front of the whole club. Fortunately, John Farrell hasn't yet done anything quite that dumb, and we've seen hints that he'll be trying a few new things. While in Toronto, Farrell was fond of extreme shifts, often moving third baseman and champion helmet-tosser Brett Lawrie into shallow right. It appears he's looking to do the same sort of thing in Boston. It also seems likely that Farrell has settled on his April lineup for the time being. Hint: Jose Iglesias will not bat third.
Iglesias will be starting, however, with Stephen Drew on the bench to start the season. Drew was hit by a pitch early in spring training and suffered a concussion. It initially appeared Drew had recovered enough to start playing again, but the thing about concussions is that they creep back up, and now the prognosis for Opening Day is less clear. I'd also like to echo Marc's aside in that last piece and thank you guys for not joining the chorus of "makes sense he's hurt, just like his brother, huh huh" around the web. It seems silly to praise y'all for clearing such a low bar of basic decency, but seems like this week has seen nothing but examples of folks failing to clear that bar, and it's worth mentioning when someone's done well.
Along injury lines, David Ortiz is still going to miss the opener, and possibly the first two weeks of the season. Ben examined how the lineup will try to make up for the loss of the team's top hitter. In proactive injury news, John Farrell hinted that the Red Sox would be looking to potentially add an arm for rotation depth. The Sox appear well-stocked in the rotation right now, but then we've said that in the spring several years running now, and having a few spare starters is never a bad thing.
Really, though, this entire week was about one impressively talented young man: Jackie Bradley. With the Red Sox down David Ortiz, and free agent pickings fairly slim (please read Marc's take on the currently available Chone Figgins), calls have started to bring Bradley onto the big-league squad out of spring training. He's been stellar so far in March, although as Ben points out, it is against the strange mix of major-league talent and minor-league filler that makes up spring training pitching staffs. Still, the question with Bradley is not whether he'd succeed in the majors, but whether it's wise to bring him up now. An Opening Day start could get his service clock going early, and early-season struggles could bench a player we want playing every day, as Marc points out. Matt Kory comes out against an early call-up, not only for the above reasons, but on the off chance that big-league struggles disrupt Bradley's development and send him into a Daniel Bard-like spiral. Whatever the front office's decision, we can all understand one thing: Bradley's arrival on the stage has made it a lot easier to deal with the imminent departure of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Enjoy the weekend, all. Nine days till the first pitch in the Bronx.