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Projecting the Opening Day roster, 1.0

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 13, 2012 11:28 AM

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TAMPA, Fla. As the Red Sox prepare to face the Yankees tonight, there are only 22 games remaining on the spring training schedule.

Just for fun, let's try and project the 25-man roster.

Lineup (9)
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
David Ortiz DH
Kevin Youkilis 3B
Cody Ross LF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia C
Ryan Sweeney RF
Mike Aviles SS

Bench (4)
Kelly Shoppach C
Nick Punto INF
Darnell McDonald OF
TBA

Explanation: Carl Crawford is almost certain to open the season on the disabled list. So that opens a spot for McDonald. The final bench spot is anybody's guess at this point. They could go with another outfielder (Josh Kroeger, Jason Repko, Che-Hsuan Lin) or an infielder (Pedro Ciriaco, Nate Spears).

There's little chance they would keep Ryan Lavarnway or Will Middlebrooks. The preference would be to have them play every day at Triple-A than be the last man on the major league bench. Their time is coming, however. Every single indication points to Aviles being the shortstop with Jose Iglesias starting the season in Pawtucket.

Rotation (5)
LHP Jon Lester
RHP Josh Beckett
RHP Clay Buchholz
RHP Daniel Bard
LHP Felix Doubront

Explanation: The Red Sox do not need a No. 5 starter until April 11 in Toronto. Doubront would be able to work out of the bullpen, if needed, in the first two games. Doubront also is out of options, so there is merit to seeing what he can do as there is little chance he could clear waivers.

Bullpen (7)
RHP Andrew Bailey
RHP Mark Melancon
RHP Alfredo Aceves
RHP Matt Albers
LHP Franklin Morales
RHP Michael Bowden
LHP Andrew Miller

Explanation: I'd hate to be the person to explain to Aceves why he is being denied a rotation spot. But his versatility is a curse because he is a perfect reliever. If Morales has time to get ready, they obviously need a lefthander and the only alternatives are Jesse Carlson or Justin Thomas. Bowden and Miller are out of options, so that could be their ticket to the majors. There also aren't many compelling alternatives and as we all know, the Red Sox are endlessly fascinated with Miller.

The Triple-A rotation (barring defections via option clauses) would be Vicente Padilla, Aaron Cook, Ross Ohlendorf, Alex Wilson and assorted others. Here's wishing manager Arnie Beyeler well trying to keep Mr. Padilla happy.

Disabled List (5)
OF Carl Crawford
LHP Rich Hill
RHP Bobby Jenks
RHP John Lackey
RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka

Explanation: The Sox could try and stash somebody (say Doubront) on the disabled list for the first five games then activate him to start the sixth game. That would enable them to keep an extra player.

As for the rest, Crawford (left wrist) is on track to return a week or two into the season. Hill (elbow) could return in late May or June. Jenks (back) could be done for the season, which is definitely the case for Lackey (elbow). Matsuzaka (elbow) is pitching well in the bullpen. But there are no miracles with Tommy John surgery, so don't expect him until June or July. Given his history, there's a setback coming.

So that's what we have for now. Your thoughts on who should stay or who should go are certainly welcome.

Keep in mind, the Opening Day roster is vastly overrated. Dennys Reyes was a hot story for a few days at the end of camp last year when he made the team and he never got to Fenway Park before disappearing into the ether. The roster will change dozens of times, but it's fun to try and guess who the Sox will bring to Detroit.

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