By Marjorie-Sarah Atkinson
As the professional football season ended with Super Bowl 50 and is officially over until August, the professional baseball season is only beginning. Pitchers and catchers will be reporting for spring training this week and early next week, starting on Feb. 17.
At Fenway South, the spring training base of the Boston Red Sox, in Fort Myers, Florida, the report date is Feb. 18, with the pitchers and catchers’ first workout occurring on the following day. The first full squad workout is on Feb. 24, and all workouts are free and open to the public.
Approximately 30 players have already reported to camp. Among the first to check in were shortstop Xander Bogaerts and pitchers Junichi Tazawa, Carson Smith, and Koji Uehara, along with general manager Mike Hazen, pitching coach Carl Willis, and president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.
According to the Boston Herald, barring injuries, the starting lineup will be made up by infielders Hanley Ramirez, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, and Pablo Sandoval; outfielders Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Mookie Betts; catcher Blake Swihart; and designated hitter David Ortiz, who will be playing his last season this year. The bench includes veteran catcher Ryan Hanigan, outfielder Chris Young, and utilitymen Brock Holt and Travis Shaw. The bullpen rotation consists of David Price, Clay Buchholz, Rick Porcello, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Joe Kelly, with seats reserved for Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Carson Smith, and lefty Robbie Ross, Jr.
After a 78-84 record in the 2015 season, with the team’s main weaknesses concentrated in its starting rotation and bullpen lineup, fans are hopeful that the new season will be more successful for the Red Sox.