Well, ladies and gentlemen, the 2016 Red Sox season has officially arrived as pitchers and catchers reported to Fort Myers this past Thursday, and a full squad workout today. But with every season comes numerous question marks, no matter how great your team looks on paper. In fact, there are 3 of them just regarding the Red Sox infield this season. So I'm going to list them, in order, starting with the 3rd concern.
3. Hanley Ramirez over Travis Shaw at first.
After a total debacle as a left fielder in 2015, Hanley will make his second positional transition in two years. Now the reason behind Hanley not placing top 2 on my concern list is because he used to play shortstop. At short, he was a well above-average fielder and tracker of the ball. To be a shortstop, you must have quick feet and a strong arm. At first, you don't have to cover nearly as much ground and, quite frankly, it's an easier position to learn than left field.
Obviously, Hanley could've learned left had he continued to work at it aside from in the spring, but he didn't and now he's switching again. But if he puts in extra work, he could be a very serviceable first baseman, and a bat like his is hard to find, so his fielding is a plus if he can get it done. But if not, Travis Shaw will hopefully be ready to answer the call.
2. Dustin Pedroia's health
Pedroia is at the point in his career where we should know what he's going to produce. But unfortunately, that's not the case; health has been a HUGE question mark for Pedey. When he's healthy, he's been fantastic defensively at second and offensively. But if the Sox want to contend, Pedroia is going to need to keep himself on the field and play around 150 games.
Dustin is going into his age 33 season, and hasn't played a full season since 2013. In fact, he played in his least amount of games (93) since 2010 when he struggled with various foot injuries last season. If he can stay healthy and hit roughly .295, we're in good shape for this upcoming season.
I'm fairly certain the biggest concern regarding the Sox infield is very obvious. He struggled in 2015 and was asked to come back to camp in better shape. Not only did he not listen, he told the media that nobody from the Red Sox told him he had to.
1. Pablo Sandoval
Well, like I said before, Sandoval came back to camp without looking like he's lost anything. If anything, he gained weight. Plus, following a career-worst season offensively last season, it would've been nice to see Pablo come back looking better than he did. But Sandoval has been notoriously known for being able to perform with the added weight, so their is a little bright spot with this image of Pablo at the end of the tunnel. I just don't want the corner-infielders who've been signed to big deals, to be the only two defensive liabilities on the infield.
If these three concerns aren't problems, we're looking at one the top teams in the game of baseball.