By Derek O’Brien
The Red Sox spring training has been underway for about a month now. There has been a lot of discussion about how they are going to do without David Ortiz and if Hanley Ramirez can fill his shoes. In the 2016 season, Hanley had a .286 batting average and Ortiz had a batting average of .315. It is easy to say that Hanley could fill in Ortiz’s spot in the batting order, but will he be able to match Ortiz’s attitude? David Ortiz was obviously known for his amazing performance at the plate but he was also known for his heart, on and off the field. It was easy to see that he truly loved being in Boston and saw it as his home, no matter where he ends up later on in retirement. He made this point very clear after the marathon bombing by saying, “this is our [expletive] city” at Fenway before one of their games.
Hanley had a tough return to the Red Sox a couple years ago when he started playing in left field. It did not seem like he wanted to be there and the fans knew it. He was not performing as well as he should have been and his attitude was not right, but now that he could be back in the infield, he should be more comfortable. He may also be taking over the DH position, depending on how the Red Sox want their lineup to look, leaving first base open. Therefore, this year we should see a completely different Hanley, one that interacts with the fans and becomes more of a role model than he has in the past.
Other than David Ortiz retiring, there are not many other major changes to the lineup. This is good for the Red Sox considering that they finished 93-69 last season and were first place in the AL East. There is really only one change that would be made and that all depends on where Hanley ends up. If he ends up at first base then they need a DH and if he is DH then they need a first baseman. With Pablo Sandoval and Travis Shaw in the equation now, the DH position is the biggest unknown in the Red Sox lineup right now. The only positions that are not set in stone yet are third, first, and DH.
The only big addition to the team would be Chris Sale, who the Red Sox acquired over the winter. This would add an amazing pitcher to the already talented Red Sox pitching rotation with David Price and Rick Porcello to name a few. The only question, as with any new player on the Red Sox, is can he handle the fans at Fenway who definitely let the players know if they like them or not.
With the season opener coming up quickly, the Red Sox seem to be in good shape for the season. However, it may start to go downhill if the injuries start adding up. As of now, there are not many player to worry about for injuries. Pablo Sandoval is back from missing last season after having surgery on his shoulder. He is in the best shape that he has been in for a while after losing weight in the offseason and hopefully he can stay healthy. David Price is another player to worry about because he has yet to throw due to an elbow injury. However, he should be cleared to throw soon and be able to regain a healthy arm.
With that being said, the Red Sox should have a good opportunity to bring the duck boats back to Boston again and add to the excitement of the Patriots winning the Superbowl.