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Red Sox counting on rebounds from several players

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

MLB.com is providing a multipart Spring Training primer over the next few days that will bring you up to speed on all the key issues as the Red Sox try to bounce back from consecutive last-place finishes.

Fittingly, the first segment features the players who are on a mission to have a rebound season.

MLB.com is providing a multipart Spring Training primer over the next few days that will bring you up to speed on all the key issues as the Red Sox try to bounce back from consecutive last-place finishes.

Fittingly, the first segment features the players who are on a mission to have a rebound season.

BOSTON -- Though much of the attention this offseason has focused on some marquee new additions, much of the Red Sox's success will depend on whether some of the mainstays from last year can bounce back.

1B Hanley Ramirez: Yes, Ramirez has a new position next to his name for the second straight season. The Red Sox hope the transition to first will be far smoother than the one to left field a year ago, which everyone can now admit didn't come close to working. Ramirez is expected to arrive at Spring Training with the pitchers and catchers so he can maximize the time he has with renowned infield instructor Brian Butterfield.

Ramirez has expressed confidence about his latest position switch, noting he's been an infielder his whole life. Boston needs him to bounce back -- with his bat just as much as the glove. Ramirez mashed the ball in April last season, but he was quiet the rest of the way.

3B Pablo Sandoval: Manager John Farrell recently visited with Sandoval in South Florida and reported that the third baseman had dropped 20 to 22 pounds. The increase in conditioning speaks to how much Sandoval wants to erase the sour taste of his first season with the Red Sox. He didn't look like himself at the plate or in the field.

Video: BOS@BAL: Panda laces RBI single to drive in Bogaerts

It will be interesting to see if Sandoval switch-hits again. He abandoned batting righty after a tough start last season. Boston hopes that Sandoval's 2015 season was nothing more than the classic case of a player trying too hard to impress after signing a big contract with a new team.

RHP Rick Porcello: The sinkerballer strangely got away from what has made him so effective over the years and put an over-reliance on his four-seam fastball. In the final few weeks of 2015, after a stint on the disabled list, Porcello rediscovered his sinker and got better results. The Red Sox hope there is a carryover. With the addition of ace David Price, Porcello's former teammate from Detroit, perhaps the righty will put less pressure on himself.

Video: TB@BOS: Porcello strikes out eight over seven-plus

RHP Clay Buchholz: He trying to bounce back from an injury is hardly a new theme for the Red Sox. The worst part of last season's right elbow injury was that Buchholz was in the midst of one of the best rolls of his career at the time, and he wound up missing the final three months. However, the righty was healthy during the offseason and should be fully up to speed for the start of Spring Training. Boston needs production in the rotation behind Price, and Buchholz is one of the pitchers most capable of delivering.

C Christian Vazquez: Last year at this time, Vazquez was projected as the starting catcher. But those plans were foiled when he underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow late in Spring Training and missed the entire campaign. Blake Swihart got to the Major Leagues earlier than expected as a result of Vazquez's injury, and he played well enough to have the inside track on being the No. 1 catcher in 2016. But Vazquez is determined to prove he is healthy enough to reclaim his job.

Video: Vazquez discusses his return from Tommy John surgery

There isn't much of a track record for catchers coming off Tommy John surgery, though Baltimore's Matt Wieters is an example from last year. Wieters hit some bumps in the road during his recovery, but he seemed to be back in form by the end of 2015. The Red Sox will take a wait-and-see approach with Vazquez, since the club feels fortunate to still have a stable veteran backup in Ryan Hanigan.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Christian Vazquez