The way Bradley has rocketed through the farm system, I do think you will see him in Boston before the season is out. If he is going to get a chance to supplant Ellsbury in center next season, I'm sure the Red Sox would like him to gain some comfort in the Majors before 2013 ends. Bradley is an impressive person. He seems to be one of those prospects who isn't rattled by anything and has strong self-assurance.
What's the status of Will Middlebrooks? And where does Pedro Ciriaco stand with Boston?
-- Johnny C., Bonao, Dominican Republic
Middlebrooks is fully recovered from his wrist injury and has had a productive offseason. He should be ready to go as the starting third baseman on Opening Day.
Ciriaco has the inside track on a super-utility spot on the bench. If he gains comfort in the outfield during Spring Training, he could be really valuable.
Who will be the Minor League player to make the biggest impact for the Red Sox this year?
-- Nick S., Lee, Mass.
I would keep an eye on Rubby De La Rosa, one of the pitchers the Red Sox acquired from the Dodgers in that blockbuster last August. He is about a year and a half removed from Tommy John surgery, and at one time, he was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. De La Rosa also has Major League experience, serving a fairly successful 10-start stint in the Dodgers' rotation a couple of years ago.
Who would you put in the closer's role -- Andrew Bailey or Joel Hanrahan?
-- Alex I., Akron, Ohio
It doesn't much matter who I would put there. Manager John Farrell swiftly announced after the trade that Hanrahan was his closer. It's hard to argue with the decision. Hanrahan was more durable and effective than Bailey last year and, for the most part, over the last couple of years. If Bailey can stay healthy and put up the type of numbers he did in Oakland, the Red Sox could have a dominant eighth-inning setup man.
Do you think Farrell will have the same positive impact on the pitching staff as he did in the past?
-- Chris N., Saint John, New Brunswick
I do believe Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Bard can only be influenced in a positive way by the return of Farrell. All three pitchers had the best success of their career when Farrell was Boston's pitching coach. However, when you talk about the pitching staff as a whole, it's really not fair to hope Farrell can be the savior. He is the manager, which means he is in charge of overseeing all 25 players. New pitching coach Juan Nieves will be the one entrusted with getting the most out of the pitchers.
What will Alfredo Aceves' role be with the Red Sox this year?
-- James Y., Springfield, Vt.
I think that Farrell likes what Aceves can offer as a reliever. When Aceves has the right mindset, as he did in 2011, he can be dominant, dependable and durable in that role. To me, he seemed disappointed last year that he wasn't a starter and even more upset when he was removed from the closer's role later in the year, and I truly think that impacted his focus. One of the keys for Farrell will be to get Aceves on board, much like he was under manager Terry Francona.
What are the chances that a pitcher will recover completely after Tommy John surgery?
-- Larry G., Lakeland, Fla.
The chances are strong, which is why the surgery was named after Tommy John in the first place. The lefty basically reinvented himself after the surgery. I remember when Billy Wagner was with the Red Sox and he was throwing 96 mph and putting up nasty numbers 11 months after Tommy John surgery. And he was in his late 30s. In general, Tommy John surgery is far easier to come back from for a pitcher than shoulder/rotator cuff/labrum issues.
Is there any chance of seeing Xander Bogaerts in the Majors this year?
-- Hunter N., Nazareth, Pa.
If Bogaerts winds up being a September callup in 2013, it would be a great indication of how well he performs. However, it's important to remember that he is only 20 years old. Following Bogaerts is going to be a lot of fun for Red Sox fans. I think he's the most gifted all-around prospect Boston has had in the farm system since Hanley Ramirez.