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Game -36: Red Sox Vs. Rays Game Thread

Spring training begins for "real" as the Red Sox take on the Rays.

David Banks

The college doubleheader has come and gone. Now it's time to get fake things started for real. It's time for the Grapefruit League opener: Red Sox vs. Rays in Jet Blue Park.

It's a soft opening for the Red Sox, who get the road half of a split squad Rays team. Still, they certainly have some of their bigger names with Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, and Matt Joyce all making the trip.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, have almost their full complement of starters. While David Ortiz and Mike Napoli will still be held out for the time being, replaced by Lyle Overbay and Ryan Sweeney, the rest are the sort you might expect to see on opening day:

Boston Red Sox

  1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Shane Victorino, RF
  4. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
  5. Jonny Gomes, LF
  6. Stephen Drew, SS
  7. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
  8. Lyle Overbay, 1B
  9. Ryan Sweeney, DH

Tampa Bay Rays

  1. Ben Zobrist, RF
  2. Desmond Jennings, CF
  3. Matt Joyce, LF
  4. Jack Cust, DH
  5. Ryan Roberts, 2B
  6. Sean Rodriguez, 3B
  7. Shelley Duncan, 1B
  8. Jose Lobaton, C
  9. Hak-Ju Lee, SS

While there's a few guys we'll be seeing in a Red Sox uniform for the first time today, for me the real attraction is having Will Middlebrooks back in the lineup for the first time since breaking his wrist last year. Apparently he's been putting on some big shows in batting practice, too, so said wrist injury seems to be in the past.

And then there's the man on the mound. Yes, it's John Lackey. He's new and supposedly improved, looking downright sleek in some of the pictures we've seen coming from training camp. While his work to get into shape is commendable, though, it's going to be his results while on the mound that matter. It's too late to completely undo the damage of the first three seasons of his monster contract, but at the very least he can take a step in the right direction. He'll only go one inning today, but every season has to start somewhere.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:35, and the game will be broadcast both on WEEI and NESN. The new year of baseball begins today. Go Sox!