Boston Red Sox: 10 wishes for Opening Day 2016

Mar 15, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 15, 2016; Fort Myers, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher David Price (24) pitches against the New York Yankees during the first inning at JetBlue Park. Mandatory Credit: Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports /

Here are 10 things that Boston Red Sox fans wish to see when the team opens the 2016 season in Cleveland on Monday.

The wait is finally over – baseball is back!

The Boston Red Sox open the 2016 season on the road in Cleveland on Monday, April 4. Despite consecutive last place finishes over the past two seasons, Boston enters this season riding a wave of high expectations. New president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski has taken a sledgehammer to the foundation of this franchise and remodeled the roster in his own image, providing a glimmer of hope for a drastic turnaround this season.

The moves made over the winter were quite promising, but we’ll see if the new boss’ plan pays off now that the games begin to count. It all starts with Opening Day, where the Red Sox hope to get this anticipated bounce-back campaign off to a good start. In order for that to happen, here are 10 things that Red Sox fans hope to see happen when the team takes the field in Cleveland.

A moment between the managers

When Red Sox manager John Farrell was receiving treatments last summer during his battle with lymphoma it was his friend and former colleague in the dugout Terry Francona that was by his side. Facing off against the Cleveland Indians provides fans with a fond reminder of the team’s former skipper, who led the Red Sox to a pair of World Series titles during his tenure in Boston, but his relationship with Farrell provides another element heading into this opening series. When Farrell returns to the dugout in a regular season game for the first time since his cancer diagnosis pulled him away last August, expect Francona to be there to greet him and welcome him back to the game.

An ace performance

David Price will take the mound for his first regular season start in a Red Sox uniform with the pressure of his $217 million deal weighing on him. The team is putting a lot on his shoulders to carry an otherwise shaky rotation, so it’s vital that he get off to a good start in order to avoid the wrath of fans that were skeptical of handing out such a massive contract to an over-30 pitcher. He’ll be opposed by 2014 Cy Young award winner Corey Kluber, so expect a classic pitcher’s duel to kick off the season.

Clear skies with a hint of sunshine

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The high for Monday’s forecast in Cleveland is expected to be 40 degrees, with temperatures that could dip into the 20’s. Making matters worse, there’s also a chance for snow. Baseball isn’t a game meant to be played in the snow! Let’s hope the weather improves or we may be in for nine innings worth of heavily bundled hitters struggling to swing their frozen bats against pitchers that can’t feel their hands.

Pablo Sandoval warming the bench

After losing the starting third base gig to Travis Shaw this spring, Sandoval will begin the season riding the pine. While he may be saying the right things publicly, fans will be keeping a sharp eye on how he reacts to getting benched. We want to see him engaged in the game, being a good teammate and cheering them on, not sulking on the bench or checking out his Instagram.

Chris Young being properly utilized

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We know that Brock Holt is going to get the start in left field against the right-hander Kluber, but what happens if Cleveland summons a lefty from the pen? It’s not that Holt can’t handle lefties. In fact he was actually better against left-handed pitching last year, hitting .315 against them. Yet isn’t this the scenario that Young signed up for? He is expected to be the right-handed half of a platoon for his ability to mash against lefties. Is he only going to play when a lefty starter is on the hill or will he be used as a pinch hitter? Keep in mind that with Holt’s versatility, Farrell could use Young to pinch-hit for another player that struggles against lefties, then move Holt to their spot while Young takes over in left.

Hanley Ramirez handling first base

Ramirez made it through spring training without embarrassing himself at first base, giving hope to the notion that he can make a much smoother transition to his new position than last year’s disaster in the outfield turned out to be. Now that the season is starting he’ll be under the microscope more than ever. Can he handle the pressure? How will he react to making his first costly mistake? It’s bound to happen eventually, but here’s hoping that he makes it through one game without incident.

Dustin Pedroia making Dustin Pedroia plays

The former Gold Glove award winner appeared to have lost a step defensively last season. Whether that was due to the injuries he was dealing with or a sign that age is starting to deprive him of some of his range remains to be seen. Pedroia focused on agility over strength this offseason in hopes of recapturing some of that range. Fans want to see the return of the sure-handed second baseman that dazzled them with highlight worthy plays in the infield.

David Ortiz going deep

Big Papi homered in his final Grapefruit League plate appearance and we can only hope that the same occurs in his final trip to the plate of his career – preferably in Game 7 of the World Series. So why not get things started with Ortiz knocking one out of the park in his first at-bat of the season. Now that’s how to kick off a retirement tour.

Mookie Mania

Mookie Betts is coming off of an excellent season, but will look to make another leap in 2016. This is the year he goes from All-Star snub to surefire superstar. Betts had a scorching spring, hitting .348 with a .970 OPS and team-leading 4 home runs. He’ll be counted on to lead the way from the top spot it he order to help the Red Sox get off to a fast start this season.

Next: Red Sox edge Blue Jays in front of Pedro

A Red Sox victory

Obviously. At the end of the day a win is really all fans want to see, but if the team can accomplish the other items on this wishlist then they will put themselves in position to start the season at the top of the standings.