It’s hard to believe that in just one week the Red Sox will begin playing games that count as they take on the Yankees to open the 2013 season. Coming off a disappointing 69-93 campaign, numerous changes were made with the hope of getting back to the playoffs.
Here is a look at the potential opening day lineup against CC Sabathia and the Yankees, a much different lineup with many new faces:
Nos. 1-3: Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Shane Victorino (RF), Dustin Pedroia (2B)
This has the potential to be one of the best top-of-the-lineup groups in the American League. Ellsbury is in a contract year and if he plays anywhere close to what he did in 2011 the Red Sox will be in great shape. But as always, health is a concern with the center fielder. Victorino is a contact hitter, and once he gets on base he has the ability to swipe bases, having averaged 30 per season in his nine big league seasons. Everyone knows what Pedroia brings to the table, although he will hit third instead of his typical second spot. Lifetime, he is a .304 No. 3 hitter.
Nos. 4-6: Mike Napoli (1B), Will Middlebrooks (3B), Jonny Gomes (LF)
The middle portion of the lineup is the biggest question going into the season, especially when it comes to power. Who is going to supply the power, particularly without David Ortiz to start the season? Napoli has the potential, as he hit 30 home runs in 2011 and has seven in just 19 games at Fenway Park. Middlebrooks showed he has the ability to one day, but he is only 24 years old, and entering just his second big league season. Gomes isn’t much of a power hitter, but often gets the job done in other ways.
Nos. 7-9: Jarrod Saltalamacchia (DH), David Ross (C), Jose Iglesias (SS)
With the Sox going up against a left-hander, expect Ross to get the nod behind the plate, but without Ortiz the team needs a designated hitter so Saltalamacchia can still expect to play. He will be looking to build off a 25 home run season last year, but also cut down on the strikeouts (133). Ross, an 11-year veteran, isn’t flashy but hit .269 during his last four years with Atlanta. Iglesias will get the nod at shortstop because of Stephen Drew still dealing with concussion symptoms. The 23-year-old hit just .118 in 25 games last season, but with his skill in the field he will look to prove he can at least hit a little bit given the chance to play everyday.
Follow Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @RyanHannable84.