You made it. So did the Red Sox.
The last we saw of the Sox, they were being swept out of the playoffs by a Cleveland Indians team that came within one game of winning the World Series. Led by former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, they, of course, lost to the Chicago Cubs, a team run by former Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein. They are both hot picks to make it all the way this year, and justifiably slow.
A Red Sox team at full health is a serious threat to anyone, but that’s not the team we’re going to see coming out of the gate. The bullpen is decimated, Craig Kimbrel is still terrifying, and David Price begins the season on the disabled list. Fortunately for Sox fans, the team has added Chris Sale to the rotation, ho-hum, and are nominally headed by reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello, who starts today’s opener against the Pirates at 2:05 p.m.
The offense starts the year at close to full health but without David Ortiz. Fortunately, they’ve got Andrew Benintendi, the No. 1 prospect in baseball, starting in left-field and batting second. He’s the favorite for the Rookie of the Year award, and outfield-mate Mookie Betts should compete for the MVP again. Newcomer Mitch Moreland, a defensive star with a decent bat, starts at first base in his first game for Boston.
The Pirates, who enter the season with a projected 81-81 record, will counter with Gerrit Cole, a great righty who seems like he’s been around forever but is still only 26 years old and is a potential Cy Young contender in a theoretical Kershaw-less field.
There are Red Sox season previews all over the place, including here, of course, so check them out for a broader look at the season. But most of all, rejoice, because baseball is back!
Red Sox vs. Pirates, April 3, 2017
|1||Dustin Pedroia, 2B||Adam Frazier, LF|
|2||Andrew Benintendi, LF||Starling Marte, CF|
|3||Mookie Betts, RF||Andrew McCutchen, RF|
|4||Hanley Ramirez, DH||Gregory Polanco, DH|
|5||Mitch Moreland, 1B||David Freese, 3B|
|6||Xander Bogaerts, SS||Francisco Cervelli, C|
|7||Jackie Bradley Jr., CF||Josh Bell, 1B|
|8||Pablo Sandoval, 3B||Josh Harrison, 2B|
|9||Sandy Leon, C||Jordy Mercer, SS|
|SP||Rick Porcello||Gerrit Cole|