The Red Sox have updated their 2021 spring training schedule
The Boston Red Sox have released a revised spring training schedule with a slightly delayed start date and a reshuffling of their opponents aimed at reducing travel to keep clubs in closer proximity during the ongoing pandemic.
The schedule now opens against a familiar Grapefruit League foe when the Red Sox visit the Minnesota Twins on February 28.
Boston is scheduled for eight games against the Twins and Tampa Bay Rays, nine against the Atlanta Braves, plus two against the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Limiting the 29-game schedule to only five opponents is a fairly drastic change from the original plan which had the Red Sox facing a dozen different teams on a 35-game schedule. That included the annual tune-up against the Northeastern Huskies which has been scrapped this year. The Red Sox originally had three split squad games where half the team would face one opponent while the rest of the roster would visit another but that also won’t be happening this spring.
Teams that the Red Sox will no longer be facing this spring include the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Detroit Tigers, and Miami Marlins.
All spring training games are expected to begin at 1:05 p.m. with the exception of the March 24 game against the Orioles and March 25 against the Twins, both of which have scheduled the first pitch for 6:05 p.m.
The Red Sox are expected to sell tickets filling JetBlue Park to about 24 percent capacity for home games this spring. Tickets will be sold in pods of 2-4 seats. Season ticket holders will get the first opportunity to buy tickets with sales then opening to the general public depending on availability.
The shorter schedule essentially chops one turn through the rotation out of the equation. The Red Sox need to ensure that the starters expected to open the season in the rotation are given sufficient workloads to build up their arms this spring. We saw what happened in 2019 when the Red Sox tried to reduce the innings on their starters, resulting in the staff being woefully unprepared for when the games began to count. Manager Alex Cora won’t make that mistake again. This could lead to fewer opportunities for the depth starters sitting outside of the top-five options.
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Boston has added several upgrades to a bullpen that rated among the worst in baseball last year. Which relievers vying for a spot in the bullpen make the cut will be one of the most interesting position battles this spring. Although, some of the decisions could be made for them, depending on which players are cut loose to clear space on the 40-man roster for recent free-agent signings.
We have a fairly firm idea of which position players will make the Opening Day roster so the reduced schedule shouldn’t be much of a factor for them. Boston’s daily lineups will be constructed based on the versatility of their players and taking advantage of platoon matchups more so than favoring those who get hot for a stretch in training camp.
The Red Sox have invited several of their top prospects, including Triston Casas, Jeter Downs and Jarren Duran to camp this spring. Fewer games means fewer opportunities for these young players. None of them are ready for an Opening Day roster spot though and they’ll still get some time to shine this spring.
You wouldn’t know it from the frigid temperatures in New England but we’re just over two weeks away from spring training games. These are only exhibition games but seeing the Red Sox back on the field still brings enough excitement to wet our appetites until Opening Day arrives on April 1.