Entering Spring Training, the Red Sox had a roster that seemed mostly set. You could legitimately project all 25 players -- which MLB.com did -- and have a strong chance of being right.Alas, we were not right because injuries can't be predicted.Five-time All-Star David Price (left elbow strain) is starting
Entering Spring Training, the Red Sox had a roster that seemed mostly set. You could legitimately project all 25 players -- which MLB.com did -- and have a strong chance of being right.
Alas, we were not right because injuries can't be predicted.
Five-time All-Star David Price (left elbow strain) is starting the season on the disabled list. So, too, is No. 5 starter Thomas Pomeranz (left forearm flexor strain), though the Red Sox remain hopeful he will stay on track to pitch the sixth game of the season.
Tyler Thornburg, acquired to be Boston's primary setup man back in December, also starts on the DL with an impingement of his right shoulder. Josh Rutledge (left hamstring strain) is the fourth player from the original projected roster who will open on the disabled list.
MLB.com wound up going 21-for-25. Here is a breakdown of the roster Boston is going with to start the season:
Catcher (2):Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez
After a breakout season last year for Leon, he came in as the front-runner to start on Opening Day, and he will do so for the first time in his career. Vazquez, out of options, proved many times over that is his arm is back to where it was before he had Tommy John surgery two years ago. That leaves Blake Swihart as the odd man out, even though he could start for many teams.
If Leon or Vazquez underperforms or gets hurt, the Red Sox will feel good about the luxury of being able to call up Swihart.
Infield (7): Mitch Moreland, Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Pablo Sandoval, Brock Holt, Steve Selsky
Moreland looks primed to fit in well as the new first baseman against righties. The Red Sox are hoping DH Ramirez can play there against lefties, but a right shoulder injury has prevented him from doing so in Spring Training. Third baseman Sandoval had a tremendous camp and looks like a top contender to be the American League's Comeback Player of the Year. The double-play combination of Pedroia and Bogaerts is a clear strength. Once again, Holt will play here, there and everywhere. His ability to play first will be important until Ramirez is cleared to play defense.
Rutledge was supposed to give the infield a right-handed hitter who could play all four spots, but that will be on hold for at least the first 10 days of the season. Right-handed-hitting Selsky won the final spot on the roster. Though Selksy's natural position is an outfielder, he played some third base during Spring Training and could be used there against left-handers early in the season. Selsky also played first in the Minors. He doesn't figure to see much time -- if any -- in the outfield for the Red Sox.
Outfield (4): Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, Chris Young
This was the one area of the team that stayed completely on track through all of Spring Training. Boston's outfield could wind up being the best in the game. Benintendi is a favorite to win the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Betts is an AL Most Valuable Player Award candidate again after finishing second last year. Bradley is one of the best in the game on defense and clubbed 26 homers last year. And Young is a solid backup who can play all three outfield positions with a realistic chance of hitting 15 homers as a bench player. Holt can play the outfield when needed.
Rotation (4): Rick Porcello, Chris Sale, Eduardo Rodriguez, Steven Wright
Initially, Rodriguez, Wright and Pomeranz were in a battle for the final two spots. Price's injury ended the competition aspect of the rotation. Rodriguez and Wright were both impressive throughout Spring Training. Pomeranz is still building arm strength after last season's injuries, but the Red Sox are cautiously optimistic he can take the ball on April 9 in Detroit. Because of the off-day on Tuesday, Boston can have Porcello pitch the first and fifth games of the season, allowing Pomeranz some extra time to get ready. The Red Sox will feel better about their overall chances once Price starts throwing off a mound again.
Bullpen (8): Craig Kimbrel, Joe Kelly, Matt Barnes, Richard Hembree, Robbie Ross Jr., Fernando Abad, Robby Scott, Ben Taylor
The injury to Thornburg and the temporary absence of Pomeranz left spots open for Scott and Taylor to make the team. Scott was undrafted out of Florida State, and the Red Sox signed him from an Independent League team in 2011, making his journey to the Opening Day roster a feel-good story. The same goes for Taylor, who wasn't on anyone's radar as a non-roster invitee entering camp, but he changed that with a strong showing. The 24-year-old has never pitched above Double-A, but the Red Sox are confident he can hold his own for a few days before going back to the Minors to get more seasoning.
With Thornburg out, Boston hopes Kelly can get the job done as Kimbrel's primary setup man.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.