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Travis, Brewer make Sox's Opening Day roster

@IanMBrowne
March 26, 2019

The projections are over and the Red Sox have an actual roster they will start their title defense with on March 28 in Seattle. In hindsight, MLB.com did pretty well with its most recent projection back on March 7, going 23-for-25 on the roster. Instead of Dustin Pedroia and Steve

The projections are over and the Red Sox have an actual roster they will start their title defense with on March 28 in Seattle.

In hindsight, MLB.com did pretty well with its most recent projection back on March 7, going 23-for-25 on the roster.

Instead of Dustin Pedroia and Steve Pearce, who will both start the season on the injured list, first baseman Sam Travis and righty reliever Colten Brewer are on the opening roster.

Here is a closer look at the roster that will line up at T-Mobile Field during the pregame ceremonies on Thursday.

Catcher (Two): Christian Vázquez and Blake Swihart
What changed? It took the entirety of Spring Training, but the Sox wound up picking Swihart and his offensive upside over Sandy Leon and his superb glove and game-calling skills for the backup catching spot. What will be interesting is how manager Alex Cora decides to break up the playing time between Vazquez and Swihart. Can Swihart hit his way into a more prominent role? Stay tuned. Meanwhile, Leon cleared waivers and had 48 hours to decide on whether to take an outright assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket or become a free agent.

First base (Two): Mitch Moreland and Travis
What changed? Pearce injured his left calf on March 17, and the ailment just didn't clear in time for the 2018 World Series MVP to be ready for Opening Day. Moreland will start against all righties. Travis should get the nod against some lefties until Pearce comes back, but don't be surprised if Moreland plays a little more than usual until his platoon partner returns.

Second base (Two): Brock Holt and Eduardo Núñez
What changed? Pedroia had no health setbacks during Spring Training and handled every test the Red Sox gave him. So why is he starting the season on the injured list? Simply so he has more time to ramp up, and play back-to-back games and get back into the rhythm of being a baseball player again after missing all but three games last season due to left knee woes. Pedroia could return as soon as April 9, Boston's home opener. Until then, Holt and Nunez, two solid veterans, will split playing time at second base. Once Pedroia returns, Holt and Nunez will do what they do best -- playing all over the place.

Third base (One): Rafael Devers
What changed? Devers, at the age of 22, and entering his second full season, looks much improved. The offseason conditioning program Devers was on clearly helped. He looks locked in at the plate. The big question is whether he can gain more consistency in the field. Devers has the chance to have a breakout season at the plate, and he will bat third against righties.

Shortstop (One): Xander Bogaerts
What changed? Status quo. Bogaerts is a rock for his team. He is one of the best offensive shortstops in the game and is a solid defender. Bogaerts will once again try to be an RBI machine hitting behind J.D. Martinez. Bogaerts is eligible for free agency at the end of 2019, but nobody wants to contemplate that right now. He would be a big loss.

Outfield (Four): Andrew Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts and Martinez
What changed? Everyone is heathy, which is all that matters. The Red Sox have the best quartet of outfielders in the game. Benintendi, Bradley and Betts are all Gold Glove candidates. Bradley spent the winter revamping his swing with a launch-angle master and could be in line for his best offensive season. Martinez will probably stick with last year's schedule of playing roughly 40 games in the outfield and the rest at DH.

Starting pitcher (Five): Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez
What changed? Sale is now the ace for not just this year, but the next five, after signing an extension late in camp. The Red Sox will go as far as their rotation takes them, and it's a good group. Eovaldi and Rodriguez are both breakout candidates. Price and Porcello both have Cy Young Award trophies in their possession, serving as another example of how good this rotation is. The Red Sox think they have the best starting rotation in baseball, and they might be right.

Relief pitcher (Eight): Matt Barnes, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Tyler Thornburg, Brian Johnson, Brandon Workman, Hector Velázquez and Brewer
What changed? Once the Sox made the decision to put Pedroia on the injured list, they decided to take 13 pitchers instead of 12. That vaulted Brewer on to the roster. The club has had a quiet optimism about Brewer ever since they acquired him from the Padres in November. They think he could be this year's Brasier and come out of nowhere to be a big part of the bullpen. Cora continues to be coy about his closing situation. Barnes remains the favorite if they go with a set closer. Brasier is also in the running. Hembree, Workman and Thornburg could all be asked to pitch in high-leverage situations. Is this bullpen good enough? Nobody knows. We will soon find out.

Here is the Opening Day roster:

CATCHERS
Christian Vazquez
Blake Swihart

INFIELDERS
Mitch Moreland
Eduardo Nunez
Brock Holt
Xander Bogaerts
Rafael Devers
Sam Travis

OUTFIELDERS
Andrew Benintendi
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Mookie Betts
J.D. Martinez

STARTING PITCHERS
Chris Sale
David Price
Rick Porcello
Nathan Eovaldi
Eduardo Rodriguez

RELIEF PITCHERS
Matt Barnes
Colten Brewer
Ryan Brasier
Heath Hembree
Tyler Thornburg
Brian Johnson
Brandon Workman
Hector Velazquez

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.