With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Red Sox squad each day this week. Today's topic: Spring Training is here.
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For many Red Sox players, it has been a long offseason waiting for the chance at redemption following a too-short October run. For others, it's been a whirlwind after getting traded (Chris Sale, Tyler Thornburg), signed (Mitch Moreland) or married (David Price).
The one thing they all have in common is the joy in starting up again. More than half of the Spring Training roster had been in camp several days before they were required to be.
And Monday, when all pitchers and catchers come in for physicals, Spring Training will officially be underway.
All 30 teams are eager to get going this time of year, but Boston probably has a little added energy and motivation.
The region has just been graced by a 10th sports championship in the last 15 years -- thanks to the Patriots' historic Super Bowl comeback win -- and the 2017 Red Sox have their most balanced roster (on paper at least) in years.
"We've got a really good team, and there's a good kind of pressure on us to go out and win," said Rick Porcello, who won the American League's Cy Young Award in 2016. "We're talented, and we didn't achieve what we wanted to achieve last year. We had a good year, but by the standards we want to hold ourselves to, we didn't accomplish what we wanted to accomplish."
What follows is a glance at the Spring Training picture for the Red Sox as camp opens.
Pitchers and catchers report: Monday; first workout, Tuesday.
Position players report: Thursday; first workout, Friday.
First Grapefruit League game: Feb. 24 at 1:05 p.m. ET vs. Mets at JetBlue Park.
New faces: Sale was the centerpiece of the biggest blockbuster in baseball this winter, as the Red Sox parted with two of the top prospects in the game (Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech) to bring on an ace in the middle of his prime. Just hours before president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski got Sale, he finalized a trade with the Brewers for Thornburg, who was one of the elite setup men in the game last year. Moreland, a left-handed hitter with perhaps some untapped potential, will take over as the primary first baseman.
Interesting non-roster invitees: It's hard to believe that Rusney Castillo and Allen Craig now fall under this classification. Just a year ago, Castillo came into camp as the starting left fielder. But the outfielder has never come close to living up to the expectations generated after the Red Sox signed him to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract. Craig was one of the best run producers in the National League as recently as 2013, but his career has taken a precipitous fall over the last three years. The one thing the Red Sox lack is organizational depth in the outfield, which could create an opportunity for Castillo or Craig to re-emerge at some point.
Prospects to watch:Rafael Devers, who has vaulted to the organization's most intriguing positional prospect after the trade of Moncada, is at Major League Spring Training for the first time. Devers, ranked No. 2 among Red Sox prospects by MLBPipeline.com, has projectable power and is highly regarded for his defense at third base. Speaking of corner infielders, first baseman Sam Travis (ranked fourth among Sox prospects) turned heads at camp last year and will try to do so again. Travis is coming off a torn ACL in his left knee, but he has basically completed the rehab phase and is ready to play baseball again.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.