Five Things to Watch in Red Sox Spring Training

With the start of Spring Training, expect all kinds of feel good stories coming out of Ft. Myers.

Like John Lackey really is a good guy.

As much as I look forward to Spring Training, I am not a big believer the games tell one much of anything meaningful.

For instance, the Red Sox biggest question – and most important factor in their success or failure – is the starting pitching.

And how Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Lackey and the other starters do in Florida will have practically no bearing on how they fare during the season.

So here is what this blog will be watching in Spring Training.

Medical Report

Have to admit it’s a little disheartening that David Ortiz is still not at full speed – and will take things slowly.

And who knows what to expect from Mike Napoli playing the beast of Drop 3 bat – despite the pronouncements from manager John Farrell that Napoli is ready to go.

Watch for whether Ortiz and Napoli are both ready to go without restrictions when the bell rings on Opening Day.

Leftfield

Newcomer Jonny Gomes says he wants to be more than a platoon player who only plays against lefty pitchers.

Watch if the Red Sox give Gomes at-bats against lefties as an indication of what they may do during the regular season.

Also watch for who emerges as the platoon partner – Daniel Nava or Ryan Sweeney.

Catcher

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington says he expects Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross to be the team’s catching combination. With Ryan Lavarnway headed back to Pawtucket.

There are still a bunch of teams that may be looking for a catcher – like the Cubs and White Sox.

It’s unlikely the Sox would deal Lavarnway because Saltalamacchia is a free agent at the end of the coming season.

So if Salty jumps ship and Lavarnway is gone, they would be thin at hitter, swinging his Demarini Voodoo in a good manner.

Watch if some team jumps forward with an attractive offer – for instance, something involving Saltalamacchia and Cubs starter and also free agent to be Matt Garza (if he looks healthy) may be of interest.

Bullpen

Boston has ten pitchers competing for seven bullpen slots.

The Red Sox had a pretty good bullpen last season.

If Joel Hanrahan delivers like he can, they will have a great bullpen. And depth matters because stuff happens during the season.

You can never have too much pitching – especially if the starting staff pitches like it did last year.

Watch for how the bullpen shapes up – and if the Red Sox decide to trade the surplus or stash it in Pawtucket.

Bogaerts

Looking forward to seeing uber-prospect Xander Bogaerts play against the big boys – in Spring Training and the World Baseball Classic.

While he is still a work in process, watch to see if Bogaerts holds his own against major leaguers.

That may provide some insight on whether we might expect to see Bogaerts in Fenway Park some time in 2013.

What are you watching for this Spring Training?

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