As they stood, shoulder to shoulder along the third base line at Fenway Park, the visiting Baltimore Orioles had varying reactions when the Red Sox trotted out an Opening Day lineup that featured several new names and faces.
“It’s a different team,’’ center fielder Adam Jones said of the Red Sox after he struck Baltimore’s only blow in a 3-1 loss Monday with a leadoff homer in the ninth off Joel Hanrahan.
“It was weird not seeing Big Papi out there for the first time in some years,’’ Jones said, referring to injured designated hitter David Ortiz. “I know he’s on the DL and he’s coming back, but it’s weird not seeing him.’’
Sox manager John Farrell, treated to a rousing welcome in his Fenway debut that was in stark contrast to the lusty boos that greeted him upon his return to Toronto over the weekend, rolled out a lineup that featured several of the team’s offseason acquisitions.
There was Shane Victorino, who was penciled in as the starting right fielder and hitting out of the No. 2 position . . . Mike Napoli, the first baseman who hit cleanup . . . Johnny Gomes, the designated hitter who hit out of the No. 7 spot . . . and David Ross, who caught and hit out of the No. 8 hole.
“They got a team that Farrell put together to compete,’’ said Jones, who was booed during introductions.
“I’d say they spent their money well,’’ said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “We watched their offseason transactions and we’ve seen them in spring training. When you’re in the position they’re in, obviously you’re going to have the ability to shuffle the deck a lot. I didn’t expect anything else. I’d do the same thing if I was in their situation.’’
But, Jones said, seeing the names of Victorino, Napoli, Gomes, Ross, and Hanrahan on the backs of Red Sox jerseys served to underscore the nature of the game.
“It’s just business,’’ he said. “We know they’re free agent guys and they landed in a good place. That’s just the nature of the business. A lot of different teams look different, you know what I mean?’’
The Orioles did encounter the familiar face of Clay Buchholz on the mound.
“He’s a good pitcher,’’ said catcher Matt Wieters, after Buchholz threw seven scoreless innings to improve to 2-0 on the season. Buchholz allowed three hits and four walks while striking out eight.
“He uses all of his pitches,’’ Wieters said. “He knows how to work both sides of the plate. He’s a guy you’re not going to be able to guess with, especially when he’s ahead in the count. Like I said, he’s a guy who knows how to pitch and he’s got good stuff on top of that.’’
As for the rest of the Sox pitching staff?
“Oh, they’ve got really good pitchers,’’ Jones said. “They’ve got guys who can throw strikes, pretty much. You look at their rotation with [Jon] Lester, Buchholz, [Ryan] Dempster, Felix Doubront and umm . . . ’’
Jones paused to jog his memory. “I forget,’’ he said.
Lackey? John Lackey? “Yeah, there you go, Lackey,’’ Jones nodded. “That’s a really good staff. The thing is, the longer the starters are in the game, it helps out the bullpen. That’s pretty much what it is; the starters go deep in the game, it gives the bullpen the best chance.’’
But the changes in the Red Sox lineup didn’t really strike Wieters until he saw all the new names and faces pop out of the home dugout for introductions.
“They’ve added a lot of good players,’’ Wieters said. “They kind of have a different dynamic now. They’ve got a lot of different guys who can run, so it’s going to be interesting how the year plays out and exactly what kind of style they’re going to play.’’