BOSTON (CBS) – Part two of our week-long series takes a look at the Red Sox outfield and DH spot. There are plenty of questions here as well:
– Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava
Jonny Gomes was signed for his power bat and clubhouse presence. He is expected to man left field a good amount of the season and DH every now and then. The last time he was a full-time left fielder was 2010 with Cincinnati when he played in a career-high 148 games, scoring 77 runs while hitting .266 with 18 home runs and a career-high 86 RBI. The 32-year-old raked against LHP last season with Oakland when he hit .299/.413/.561. He should still see time against right-handers especially with Ryan Kalish undergoing another shoulder surgery that could end his season.
Roche’s Breakdown: Red Sox Infield/Catcher
Daniel Nava’s chances of making the 25-man roster improved dramatically with Kalish going gown. When healthy, Nava was one of the positives under Bobby Valentine last season. In 88 games, Nava hit .243 with an OBP of .352 and a slugging percentage of .390. His numbers improved to .269/.383/.414 vs RHP as well so he could be a valuable bench player.
– Jacoby Ellsbury
One of the biggest questions heading into 2013 is will we see the Jacoby Ellsbury of 2011 when he hit .321 with an OBP of .376 and a Slugging percentage of .552 with 119 runs and 39 stolen bases… or the Ellsbury of 2012, who went down with a shoulder subluxation in April, returned, but hit just .271 with an OBP of .313 and a slugging percentage of .370 with only 43 runs and 19 stolen bases. Ellsbury is in the final year of his contract and is headed towards free agency. He will be looking to have a big year and then will probably watch as Scott Boras reels in a monster contract. Ben Cherington seems to have a good relationship with him, but with Jackie Bradley, Jr waiting in the wings, it would be a surprise if Ellsbury were to re-sign with Boston. With that said, if Ben has a chance to deal him at the trade deadline he’d be crazy not to look into what he could get in return, even if the Sox are in contention.
– Shane Victorino, Ryan Sweeney
The Red Sox surprised a lot if teams by signing Shane Victorino to a three-year, $39-million contract. The Flyin’ Hawaii’n had an outstanding 2011 when in only 132 games he hit .279 with 95 runs, 27 doubled, 16 triples, 17 HRS, 61 RBI and 19 stolen bases. But in 2012 he struggled with both Philly and LA, hitting .255 with 72 runs, 29 doubles, 7 triples, 11 HR, 55 RBI, 39 stolen bases and a career-high 80 strikeouts in 154 games. Not terrible numbers, but at 32, is it the start of a downward trend? He can still provide good defense in either right or center so he should have good value and will probably hit in the two hole for a good amount of time this season.
Ryan Sweeney started off like a house of fire in 2012, putting up .373/.394/.567 numbers in April, but then fell off a cliff. His season ended when he punched a door on July 30th and broke his hand. He’s got an invite to camp, and will fight for a roster spot.
Victorino could bounce back and slide into the number two-spot in the batting order. He can also play both right and center if the Sox end up trading Ellsbury, and brings a good attitude as well. Sweeney will have a tough time making the 25-man roster.
– David Ortiz/Gomes
Another question mark this spring is the health if David Ortiz. The Sox gave Ortiz a two-year, $25-26 million deal this past off-season after their disastrous 2012 season. The 37-year-old was putting up tremendous numbers before he was felled by an Achilles injury. In only 90 games, Big Papi hit .318 with 23 home runs and 60 RBI. The only question from here on out for David is will the Achilles hold up? If it does, David should put up his usual solid numbers.
And just in case, Gomes can fill-in at DH along with Mike Napoli or Jarrod Saltalamacchia if David needs a day off or two.
If… if Ortiz comes back to full health, there’ no reason why he can’t be productive. And if he is, he’ll join Napoli in forming a powerful tandem this season.
Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ. Tune in to his updates from Red Sox Spring Training in Fort Myers, Florida all week on WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and 98.5 The Sports Hub!