As I sit huddled at my desk with the heat on and a hot cup of coffee next to me, it seems hard to believe that baseball season begins on Sunday, but it’s true. The Boston Red Sox open their season in Philadelphia on Monday afternoon. After reaching the pinnacle of the baseball world in the 2013 season and then following up that championship season with finishing solidly in last place in 2014, Red Sox fans are yearning for a season above at least .500.
This offseason, the Red Sox have reshaped their organization. They sent their ace Jon Lester packing and procured the star of last season’s World Series, Pablo Sandoval, from the San Francisco Giants. They have nurtured new players who have been working hard in the lower levels of the Red Sox organization and trusted in their few stalwarts.
This week has been a bit of a rough one in Fenway South. Members of Red Sox nation are anxiously awaiting news from the medical team about the new catcher, Christian Vazquez. Vazquez is suffering from an elbow injury, which could require season-ending surgery this week. In response to this roadblock, on the way back into the winners column, the Red Sox acquired catcher Sandy León from the Washington Nationals.
It is likely that next Monday, and for many games after, the Red Sox will have León manning the backstop. Monday, León will be catching for Clay Buchholz. Buchholz has been with the Red Sox organization since 2007. For many fans, Buchholz has been a frustrating member of the team. Buchholz’s major fault is inconsistency. Some years, he is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and other years, he is infuriatingly mediocre. Buchholz has had a solid start to the year in Spring Training. In the four games he has played this spring, he has posted a 3.60 ERA, struck out 18 and walked three. Sox fans are hoping that this trend keeps up for the rest of the season.
When asked about what it feels like to be named opening day starter, Buchholz told The Boston Globe, “Obviously, it’s a big honor. That being said, it’s another game I’ve got to prepare for just as I would any other start.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell followed up with, “Through time here in the organization, through elite performance in fairly long stretches for Clay, this is his time.”
A new edition to the Red Sox infield is widely discussed Sandoval, or “Kung Fu Panda,” as he is affectionately known. Sandoval will be in charge of manning third base. He comes to the Red Sox after spending a previous seven seasons with the San Francisco Giants. Sandoval brings charm and power to the Red Sox team.
When asked how Sandoval is fitting in with the team, Farrell told MLB.com, “For us to get with him each and every day, we see the work ethic, which is outstanding … So he demonstrates by example, and he’s a complete and total team player.”
While there may be some new faces on the field on Monday, there will also be some familiar ones — Dustin Pedroia will take up his usual position at second base and David Ortiz will take up his position at the plate.
These old, familiar faces remind Sox fans that success is possible this year. With baseball season right around the corner, I find renewed hope that summer will actually be coming up pretty soon.