It may be difficult to believe that just three years ago, the Boston Red Sox were World Series champions, but when you factor in three losing seasons in the past four years, it’s not hard to fathom. With designated hitter David Ortiz set to retire at season’s end, will Boston reward him and the fans with a fourth championship since 2004?
Boston is set open the 2016 regular reason today in Cleveland against the Indians. The Red Sox, who followed the 2013 championship season with two straight last place finishes in the American League East, will be managed for a fourth year by John Farrell, who returns to the helm after undergoing treatment for lymphoma that caused him to miss several games at the end of last season. Boston will play an additional road series in Toronto against the Blue Jays before opening Fenway Park next Monday versus the Baltimore Orioles.
Many familiar faces return from last season; besides Ortiz, the roster features newly minted first baseman Hanley Ramirez, second baseman Dustin Pedroia, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, outfielder Mookie Betts, and starting pitchers Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly, and Rick Porcello. Another familiar face who returns as a starter this season is infielder Brock Holt, who was the lone representative for Boston at last year’s All Star Game.
Some of the new faces are already familiar to Boston fans. Pitcher David Price, who faced the Red Sox several times as a Tampa Bay starting pitcher, joins the club with the richest contract ever given in franchise history (seven years, $217 million). Chris Young, formally with the Yankees, begins the season as a reserve outfielder. One player less familiar to fans but prepared to make an impact is Craig Kimbrel, who signed as a free agent after six years split between the Braves and the Padres; he takes over the closer spot from Koji Uehara, who becomes Boston’s newest set up man.