Boston Red Sox 2016: First impressions at Fort Myers

They’re here!

The wait is over, pitchers and catchers have reported to Fort Myers Florida for the start of spring training. Hanley Ramirez, who is neither a pitcher, or a catcher is also in Fort Myers.

For all the hand-wringing over Ramirez, and the Red Sox experiment which will have him playing first base this season, it is tough to be critical of the well-paid veteran when he shows up early for spring training.

Perhaps even more encouraging is that Ramirez is one of many Red Sox position players who have arrived at the team’s Fort Myers facility early.

Regardless of how this season turns out, let the record reflect that the first impressions are that the players have a sense of urgency and an awareness that they must be better than they were the last two years.

Here we go Red Sox fans. The countdown to real games that really count can begin in earnest.

Here are some interesting and potentially important revelations from the kick-off of Spring Training 2016.

David Price still likes Twitter

For those unaware, Red Sox ace starting pitcher David Price likes twitter. Since signing up  in 2009, he’s amassed 1.2 million followers and issued over 15 thousand tweets.

Everyone who follows professional sports knows that social media can be a tricky thing for an athlete to navigate. Price had a well-publicized beef with a media member last summer.

In spite of that hiccup, Price’s social media presence has been mostly positive.  If Price pitches like the Cy Young contender he’s expected to be, then a social media issue might not be that big a deal. If he has a disappointing 2016, then Red Sox fans and media will not be too forgiving of any social media mishap.

Pablo Sandoval will switch hit again

Unlike Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval is not in Fort Myers yet. He is scheduled to arrive Saturday. That didn’t stop Red Sox manager John Farrell from making a rather important announcement Thursday morning.

MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith reports that Sandoval will return to switch-hitting this coming season. According to Farrell, “He’s revamped his right-handed swing. And for those who are familiar with what that looked like last year, I think you’ll see a difference when he gets here.”

Sandoval was a switch-hitter when he inked his lucrative five-year, $95 million contract with the Red Sox. For the first half of 2015 he was a switch-hitter, but after starting 2015 2-for-41 from the right side, he went exclusively left-handed from June through the end of the season.

Even with the switch, Sandoval still had a career-worst season.

Fenway Park can be a very friendly place for a right-handed hitter. The green monster might stand tall, but it is not a deep left field fence. If Sandoval can drive the ball from the right-side, then the doubles will come in bunches.

The “experts” appear to like the Red Sox chances

Earlier this week, Baseball Prospectus released their 2016 projections. The very popular statistical based annual baseball guide doesn’t have the Red Sox running away with the American League East.

They do have the team projected for 88 wins (plus 10 from 2015,) and while that won’t be enough to give them the division title, Baseball Prospectus predicts it earns them a wild card berth.

Former Grantland.com baseball scribe Jonah Keri has landed at Sports Illustrated. Thursday morning, Keri released his spring training MLB power rankings. He’s got the Red  Sox ranked No. 8 which is the highest ranking of any American League East squad.

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark has yet to release any concrete predictions for the 2016 season. Wednesday he published a column that highlighted the best and worst of the offseason. Stark lists the Red Sox as one of the very big winners among major league teams.

Tuesday, USA Today made their win projections for all 30 major league teams. The Red Sox were projected to win 88 games. Unlike the Baseball Prospectus prediction, the 88 wins would be enough to win the American League East.

How good will this team be? We certainly will know a lot more once the exhibition games start on Monday February 29.

 

 

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