The last Major League Baseball game played that mattered any came on Oct. 30, 2013 and featured the Red Sox and Cardinals. Five months and a day later the Red Sox will take the field again for one that “counts,” though Monday’s showdown with the Orioles in Baltimore (3 p.m., NESN) will come with considerably less fanfare.
Don’t think the defending World Series champion Sox feel slighted that they’re starting the 2014 season in relative anonymity. Most are welcoming it. Boston’s slogan throughout spring training has been “Turn the Page.”
“There’ll be a ring ceremony. There’ll be a trip to the White House. Those are reminders that they should enjoy,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “But our focus is on what we need to do today.”
No team has repeated as World Series champions since the New York Yankees in 1999 and 2000. The Toronto Blue Jays repeated in 1993 but prior to that it had been 13 years in between repeat champions. On one hand, MLB is due for a group of back-to-backers. On the other hand, repeating in baseball is something inching towards improbable.
But the Red Sox seem well-positioned to reach 90-plus wins again, given that they bring back seven of the nine batters in the starting lineup from their Fall Classic triumph over St. Louis.
Gone is Jacoby Ellsbury in center field and Jarrod Saltalamacchia at catcher. Absent, for the time being, is shortstop Stephen Drew.
Entering is center fielder Grady Sizemore and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Seemingly ready to take the reigns at shortstop is 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts, who started at third base in Game 6 five months ago.
The odds for the 2014 Red Sox winning the World Series aren’t favorable. Then again, their 2013 odds were much, much worse. Five months from now, we’ll have a much better handle on what kind of team the 2014 Boston Red Sox are. Our first glimpse of potential October magic begins Monday.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS