Inbox: What will hitting coach Davis bring to Red Sox?
Beat reporter Ian Browne fields Boston fans' questions
I'm excited about the Chili Davis hire. How do you feel his approach to the offensive side of the ball will help the Red Sox this year?
-- Steve J., Ridgewood, N.J.
Davis should do an excellent job with the Red Sox. Not only is he known for having a great work ethic, but Davis has the type of enthusiasm that is infectious for young players. Look at the success he had with some of the younger hitters he tutored with the Oakland Athletics.
Davis is also familiar with the Red Sox organization after spending a season as a hitting coach at Triple-A Pawtucket. He had success as a Major League hitter from both sides of the plate, another thing that helps him relate to both lefties and righties, not to mention switch hitters.
What's the word on Clay Buchholz this offseason?
-- Joe O., Lynn, Mass.
Things have been very quiet on the Buchholz front, mainly because he's just having a standard offseason that doesn't include rehab from any injury. Buchholz should come into camp ready to go, and he could be in for a big year. The key for Buchholz is to prove that he can be dependable for a full season.
It seemed like Brock Holt made spectacular play after spectacular play, and each time at a different position, while hitting .281 with a .771 OPS. His all-out playing style is energizing and motivating. Why is he not talked about more as a full-time, day-to-day player for the Red Sox?
-- Alex R., Philadelphia
Holt could be the classic case of someone who is best utilized as a jack of all trades, as opposed to someone who holds down one position for 600 at-bats. Not only does he provide versatility for manager John Farrell all over the diamond, but he also serves as insurance in the event that anyone on the team suffers an injury. Aside from pitcher or catcher, Holt can fill in anywhere.
Should the Red Sox go with a lineup that was similar to 2013 at the top, with Mookie Betts leading off, Shane Victorino second, Dustin Pedroia third and David Ortiz fourth? This would create great lineup depth, with Mike Napoli hitting seventh.
-- Tyler B., Palatka, Fla.
Farrell is already on record as saying his ideal lineup would have Pedroia second, followed by Ortiz, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval and Napoli. That lineup has some nice right-left balance to it. Betts figures to lead off, assuming he wins a starting outfield job in camp.
Who is the Minor League player for the Red Sox that you are most excited about watching this year?
-- Nick S., Lee, Mass.
This is a big year for Henry Owens. I think the lefty can be a very dynamic performer who could pitch his way into the Major League rotation before the season ends. Perhaps he can help make up for the loss of Jon Lester, though it will take him time to evolve into that kind of performer.
Do you see the Red Sox extending any of the new starting pitchers' contracts before the season starts, specifically Rick Porcello?
-- Robert F.., Fort Myers, Fla.
The Red Sox organization is completely new to Porcello, so I'm guessing he will get comfortable in his surroundings before committing to a long-term deal. If the initiation period is a positive experience, perhaps Porcello and the Red Sox could agree to an extension around the All-Star break.
I haven't heard much about Koji Uehara this offseason. What is his status? Do you think he'll bounce back this season or be close to the type of pitcher he was in 2013?
-- Miguel C., Holland, Mich.
Uehara is fine and had an uneventful offseason. I wouldn't say he had a bad season last year. It was more like Uehara just had a bad month that could largely be chalked up to fatigue. The season he had in 2013 was one of the best a closer has had in history, so I think that's a high bar to expect anyone to reach.
Who will have the bigger impact: Xander Bogaerts or Betts?
-- No name submitted, Middle Island, N.Y.
For the 2015 season, I expect Bogaerts will have the bigger impact because he went through all his rookie lumps last year. The way Betts made such a smooth introduction to the Majors down the stretch in 2014 reminded me of Bogaerts the season before. Now, pitchers have a scouting report on Betts, so he might have to make some adjustments. They both should be a big part of future Red Sox teams.