Questions Remain Unanswered as Spring Training Fast Approaches for Red Sox

With February fast approaching, the early signs of baseball returning have blossomed with trucks getting ready to make the trip to each team’s respective spring training location. Excitement among fans is growing as all 30 teams’ pitchers and catchers report to their Spring Training facility to work out with the coaches and training staff in about two weeks. For the Red Sox, however, questions remain as to what the plan is for the 2023 regular season.

Shortstop, which is a position where Red Sox fans know who is going to play there, is now open for grabs as the Red Sox do not have a definitive starting shortstop. The suspected starting shortstop, after longtime Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts departed for San Diego in the offseason,  Trevor Story, underwent an internal bracing procedure on his right ulnar collateral ligament, causing him to miss most of the 2023 season. After the news broke about Story’s surgery, two options emerged for management to choose from. 

The first option was to move utility man Kiké Hernández to shortstop from center field. This seemed to be the decision that the Red Sox front office appeared to be going, as they signed free agent outfielder Adam Duvall to a one-year contract to most likely roam one of the toughest center fields in MLB. 

“I think the biggest challenge will be the dimensions.” Duvall said, “I’ve even thought about going back and watching certain plays and how I can learn to play the ball off the wall and the ball in the gap and those things before I even step foot in the stadium. I’m thinking of ways I can try to familiarize myself with the park and the dimensions and how to play certain balls before I even get there.” 

The second option was to look into the free agency or trade market to acquire a new shortstop. The Red Sox also went into the open market and acquired a speedster from the Kansas City Royals, Adalberto Mondesi. However, Mondesi only played 15 games in 2022 after tearing his ACL and is not guaranteed to be ready for Opening Day.

With big names coming back from injury or new young faces breaking into the majors, the Red Sox starting rotation is another unknown heading into Spring Training.

Young right-handed pitchers Brayan Bello and Garrett Whitlock have shown dominance in their outings on the mound for the Red Sox. Bello posted a 2.59 ERA (Earned Run Average) in September/October to counter the 4.71 ERA through his call-up in July to his final start in Toronto on Oct. 2. Whitlock has demonstrated that he can pitch innings for the Red Sox, throwing a combined 151.2 innings through his two years pitching out of the bullpen and starting in Boston. 

While both starters have appeared to be contenders to make the rotation for the 2023 season, pitching staff veterans are making their case to crack a spot. Left-handed pitchers Chris Sale and James Paxton are returning after injuries derailed their attempts to pitch well in 2022.

Sale only pitched in two games in 2022 because of a multitude of injuries that halted him from pitching more. Sale looks to put that myriad of injuries behind him to pitch like his old self in 2023. Paxton is set to return to the mound after undergoing surgery in April of 2021. His 3.59 ERA in 754.2 career innings is strong on paper, but with only six starts to his name since 2020, it is going to be challenging for him to make a case for the rotation.

All of these questions are destined to be answered one way or another as a new season of Red Sox baseball begins with Truck Day on Friday, Feb. 3 to transport team equipment to the Red Sox Spring Training facility in Fort Myers, Fla.