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Projecting the Red Sox roster, Version 2.5

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 24, 2014 08:30 AM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. The original plan wasn't to do another one of these until later in the week. But recent events suggest a revision is needed.

So let's take another run at projecting the Red Sox roster that will take the field a week from today in Baltimore.

Here is Version 1.0 from Feb. 25.

Here is Version 2.0 from March 17.

Now to the latest version:

STARTING PITCHERS (5)
LHP Jon Lester
RHP John Lackey
LHP Felix Doubront
RHP Jake Peavy
RHP Clay Buchholz

Explanation: John Farell hasn't announced the rotation yet. But this is how they are lined up. Lackey and Doubront haven't been especially sharp in recent starts but they each have a start left to tighten it up. Farrell is going a little against tradition by having the starters throw 95-100 pitches in their final start of the spring instead of tapering back. That could lead to stronger early starts.

RELIEF PITCHERS (7)
RHP Koji Uehara
RHP Junichi Tazawa
LHP Andrew Miller
RHP Brandon Workman
RHP Edward Mujica
RHP Burke Badenhop
LHP Chris Capuano

Explanation: The Craig Breslow mystery is slowly clearing up. The lefthander is pitching a minor league game today so the Red Sox will maintain their ability to backdate his stay on the disabled list. There were a lot of denials early in camp, but something seems to be going on with his shoulder. This is more than somebody needing extra time.

CATCHERS (2)
A.J. Pierzynski
David Ross

Explanation: No changes. It's pretty remarkable that the Sox will have three major-league ready backups in Dan Butler, Ryan Lavarnway and Christian Vazquez at Triple A Pawtucket. They should do Lavarnway a favor and trade him.

DESIGNATED HITTER (1)
David Ortiz

Explanation: Now that he has a contract extension, perhaps Big Papi will improve on his dreadful spring training. He is 2 for 35 with 12 strikeouts. Confidence isn't lacking, however. Ortiz predicted a few days ago that he would hit .350 in April.

INFIELD (5)
1B Mike Napoli
2B Dustin Pedroia
SS Xander Bogaerts
3B Will Middlebrooks
2B-SS-3B Jonathan Herrera

Explanation: Bogaerts and Napoli haven't hit much this spring. But that's not a big deal. The coaches are pleased with the progress Bogaerts has made defensively. The only thing the Red Sox want from Stephen Drew now is to sign with another team so they can get a draft pick.

OUTFIELD (5)
RF Shane Victorino
CF Grady Sizemore
LF Jonny Gomes
LF-RF-1B Daniel Nava
LF-1B Mike Carp

Explanation: Sizemore has passed every physical test so far and earned a place on the roster. The Red Sox might as well take advantage of his good health now because it might not last.

But there will be obstacles to overcome. On those days when Sizemore is rested, Victorino can certainly play center field. But Gomes has started only 10 games in right field over the last three years and Carp two in his career. Nava had 51 starts in right field last season but had a -4.6 UZR when he was out there.

There has been talk of Nava playing center but that would be taking a risk.

The Sox have five outfielders but it's not a defensively versatile group. Jackie Bradley would be a better fit, but there's no room for him. Bradley can be optioned and that's the easiest thing to do right now. His time will come.

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