Red Sox excite fans with energizing Opening Day lineup vs Mariners

Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers
Boston Red Sox v Texas Rangers / Maddie Malhotra/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

We made it. Boston Red Sox fans have trudged through another arduous offseason, and Opening Day has finally arrived.

The Red Sox released the lineup for Game 1 of 162 and it features many players that had a successful spring in the Grapefruit League.

Ceddanne Rafaela was Boston's star this spring and he's set himself up for a breakout season. Rafaela thwarted all doubts about his abilities to open the season at the big-league level — he posted a .270 batting average, three home runs and 32 total bases in his 23 appearances. He also made some stunning defensive plays that will improve the Sox's defensive numbers alone.

Boston announced on March 19 that the freshly-extended Brayan Bello would get the start on Opening Day. The 24-year-old is Boston's youngest Opening Day starter in decades and the first of Dominican descent since his mentor Pedro Martínez got the nod. Bello will serve as the Sox's ace for the coming season and expectations are high for the righty.

Triston Casas, Trevor Story, Rafael Devers and Connor Wong are all coming off strong offensive performances this spring. Story had the biggest evolution of the three and he's primed for a standout campaign. The shortstop has struggled at the plate since he arrived in Boston, but this spring he slashed .380/.448/.640 with an 1.088 OPS and three home runs. Story earned his spot in the batting order after his offensive showing in the Grapefruit League.

If Boston's new right fielder Tyler O'Neill can post a homer against Seattle on Thursday night, he has a chance to break a record for most consecutive Opening Day games with a blast. He's currently tied with Todd Hundley, Gary Carter and Yogi Berra with four consecutive Opening Day bombs, and he could be the first in MLB history to hit five.

Boston will be staring down the fearsome Luis Castillo to begin the season. But if the Sox's offensive production from spring training continues, they could start the year on a high note.

And Red Sox Nation could use that optimism.

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