After opening the year in New York, the Red Sox continue their six-game road trip to start the season as they travel to Toronto for a three-game weekend set beginning Friday (7 p.m., NESN). This will give the Red Sox their first glimpse at the new-look Blue Jays, who were very active this past offseason.
Boston will face two of Toronto’s new pitchers — Josh Johnson in the opener, who was acquired as part of a blockbuster trade with Miami, and then reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey in the season finale on Sunday.
The series will give Red Sox fans their first look at starters Felix Doubront and John Lackey, who will start Friday and Saturday respectively. Saturday’s start by Lackey is much anticipated as he finally returns from Tommy John surgery, which forced him to miss the entire 2012 season.
The right-hander will attempt to rebound from his rough 2011 season as well as he went 12-12 with a career-high 6.41 ERA. He seems determined to do just that as he came into camp this spring having lost roughly 15 pounds and has said all the right things so far.
Lackey and the rest of the pitching staff will go against a tough Blue Jays lineup that includes shortstop Jose Reyes, who was also part of the trade with the Marlins. The Blue Jays also return sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. With their lineup and new pitching staff, the Blue Jays appear to be one of the better teams, on paper, in the American League East.
Another storyline this weekend will be manager John Farrell’s return to Toronto, where he left after two seasons to return to Boston and replace Bobby Valentine. Many people in Toronto were not pleased with the way Farrell left as he was still under contract for one more season.
It is sure to be a different, more intense and exciting atmosphere in Toronto this weekend with Farrell coming back, coupled with the high expectations for the Blue Jays this season.
Coming off disappointing beginnings to the past two seasons (1-5 and 2-10), the Red Sox will look to ride the momentum they gained in New York and reverse their recent trend.