John Farrell laid out the Red Sox' 2016 plans for playing time at first base and in the outfield Tuesday on WEEI, giving some definition to the roles that backups Chris Young and Travis Shaw will play with the team.
For both, the clear message is that "backup" is actually selling them a little short. Young, who has hit .263/.362/.474 against southpaws in his career, is expected to get "every at-bat against left-handed pitching" to go with an occasional appearance against righties both to keep the outfield well-rested, and to get him some extra appearances in Fenway Park, where they expect his swing to play up.
For the most part, the left-handed Jackie Bradley Jr. would seem the obvious choice to sit out those games against lefties. And it sounds like that will be the plan, though Farrell emphasized that he won't be the only one taking days off. Bradley does have reverse splits over the course of his major league career, but that's not a trend that stays consistent going back to his time in the minors, and his time in the majors doesn't provide a sample anywhere near large enough to start drawing conclusions.
Regardless of who's turn it is to sit on any given day, though, the Red Sox have better than 480 starts to split between 4 players over the course of the season, and that's assuming perfect health. There will be plenty of playing time to go around.
At first, the situation is a little more restrictive. Hanley Ramirez and Travis Shaw won't be splitting time equally, it seems, but Hanley also won't quite be starting there every game. The Sox do expect the transition to first base will be less of a struggle than last year's left field experiment given Hanley's experience as an infielder, but with Shaw deserving a chance to show what he can do, it makes sense that the team might not want to put the whole burden of the position on Ramirez immediately to start the year. And while Farrell didn't mention anything about third base aside for some positive notes on Pablo Sandoval's offseason routine, it wouldn't be surprising to see Shaw getting some time at the hot corner if Brock Holt is otherwise indisposed.