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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

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March 4, 2024
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An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
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February 26, 2024

10 Spring Story Lines for the Red Sox

It seems like just days ago that Jonathan Papelbon blew a fastball by Colorado Rockies’ pinch-hitter Seth Smith, officially making the Red Sox champions for the second time in four seasons. However, the beauty of baseball is back upon us, as spring training is underway in Florida and Arizona. Now is the time to check in on the Sox, their preparations to defend their title, and identify the 10 key questions that Boston fans should be asking before the season opener in Japan against the Oakland Athletics.

10. How will bowling help J.D. Drew prepare for a better 2008 campaign?

This actually isn’t a joke. Drew took up bowling to strengthen his lower back, according to the much-maligned right fielder. If Drew can offer more offensively, it will lighten the stress on the rest of the lineup.

9. What is the status of Terry Francona’s future with the Red Sox?

According to owner John Henry, this isn’t much of an issue, as an extension is on the horizon. However, until it is official, it is something that Sox fans need to monitor.

8. Is Clay Buchholz faster than Jacoby Ellsbury?

The young pitcher of no-hit fame claims he can outrun the speedy centerfielder, which is quite a claim. Sadly, this question might never be answered, as the Sox have threatened to fine Buchholz if he lines up against Ellsbury this spring.

7. Will Sean Casey be able to become an effective bat off the bench?

The signing of Casey appears to be a prudent one, as he provides depth at first base for Kevin Youkilis. If Mike Lowell needs time off, Youkilis can slide across the diamond to third base, with Casey playing first. Adding a career .301 hitter, who’s known as a great clubhouse guy, should be beneficial to the Sox’ title run, but how will The Mayor adjust to life as a reserve, getting his name called more infrequently?

6. Will Daisuke Matsuzaka be able to ready himself in the face of the Japanese spotlight?

By many accounts, Matsuzaka was somewhat of a disappointment in 2007, given the cost of acquiring him. He is a tireless worker, however. As long as the ever-present Japanese media can stay out of his way in Florida, he should be able to prepare to exceed his performance last year.

5. Will Manny Ramirez’ impending free agency distract him during the spring?

Man-Ram has been known to be distracted by pitching changes, long innings and shiny objects. His 8-year, $160 million deal expires this season. As he lines himself up for a contract year, will he be able to prepare himself not knowing where he’ll be playing next year? I don’t think this will be much of a concern, because I’m not entirely sure Manny knows where he’s playing now.

4. How will David Ortiz’ knee hold up in spring training?

Ortiz claims to be close to 100% following knee surgery in the off-season. Having Ortiz at anything less won’t do for the Sox in 2008, who once again will rely on their MVP to produce big numbers. Too many times last year the Sox relied on Ortiz and his gimpy knee to carry the team. If they lean on him again, he needs to be healthy.

3. How will Curt Schilling’s shoulder situation play out?

This has turned into a he-said, they-said situation pitting doctors against Schilling against the Sox. As it stands, Schilling is following the Sox’ orders of rehabilitation and is hopefully on track for an August comeback. To do this, Schilling must focus in the spring on his rehab.

2. How will Coco Crisp’s trade demand affect the team spring?

A veteran team shouldn’t be distracted by a trade demand that many saw coming. However, this will hurt the team’s depth and may become a distraction if a trade doesn’t happen quickly. Ellsbury can help this situation by hitting well early in the spring and eliminating doubt that he’s ready to start for a full season.

1. Will the Red Sox prepare for the 2008 season with the same hunger as 2007?

It’s not easy being the hunted, as the Sox learned in 2005 with a first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Chicago White Sox. Based on the improvements made in Detroit, Anaheim and Seattle (with the Yankees always in contention, too), the American League has never been tighter. The Sox will have to be even better in 2008, which is no easy task.