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Projecting the Opening Day roster, 2.0

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 26, 2012 12:16 AM

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The Red Sox break camp in Florida a week from today and head to Washington for their final exhibition game.

Here's our second shot at projecting the 25-man Opening Day roster. Our first version came on March 13. There have been a few changes.

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
Darnell McDonald OF
Nick Punto INF
Ryan Lavarnway C

Explanation: Aviles has played well enough to earn the job and Jose Iglesias is hitting .174/.240/.261. He looks better at the plate, sure. But what has he earned? Until Carl Crawford comes back, keeping Lavarnway around makes sense. He's a heck of a hitter and could be useful in several ways. The alternative would be somebody like INF Pedro Ciriaco or OF Jason Repko. Regardless, it's just keeping a spot warm until Crawford returns.

Keeping Lavarnway in the majors for a few weeks would not hurt his development. If anything, it could further it.

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

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

Explanation: The Red Sox do not need a No. 5 starter until April 11, so in theory they could play some roster games with the staff. But we'll play it straight for now. Doubront deserves to the be the No. 4 starter ahead of Bard. Plus any innings you can conserve with Bard now could pay off later as there is little chance he can give you more than 150 or so this season. Not after throwing 73 last season.

Ideally you would like two lefties in the bullpen. But Andrew Miller has been hurt and Justin Thomas hasn't shown enough to unseat one of the righthanders. Tough break for Aceves going back to the bullpen. But if Bard can't handle the rotation, Aceves could get his chance later on in the season. Bobby Valentine likes Michael Bowden. Padilla, in theory at least, should be able to go multiple innings if needed.

Aaron Cook has thrown 9.1 innings at this point with a week left of spring training. Hard to give him a spot based on that. He can start the season in Pawtucket, build up and get his shot with needed.

Disabled List (7)
Daisuke Matsuzaka RHP
John Lackey RHP
Bobby Jenks RHP
Rich Hill, LHP
Andrew Miller LHP
Carl Crawford OF
Ryan Kalish OF

Explanation: Seven players on the DL before the season even starts? Dr. James Andrews should open a walk-in clinic in a back room at the Cask 'n Flagon.

Lackey and (quite possibly) Jenks are done for the year as they recover from surgery. Matsuzaka is on a sometime-in-June timetable barring a setback. Hill has made remarkable process and is throwing the ball better than any other lefty reliever in camp. But rehab protocol demands he build up gradually.

Crawford isn't close to getting into a game. We could we talking more late April with him. Miller has so far had elbow and hamstring issues. Given that he is out of options, the Sox will happily allow him to dwell on the DL. Kalish has started baseball activities and should return to at least Pawtucket later this season.

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