Red Sox drop first spring training lineup with 1-2 punch that will excite Boston fans

Boston Red Sox Spring Training
Boston Red Sox Spring Training / Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox open spring training games this afternoon against the division-rival Orioles and the first lineup of the preseason features some players expected to make the Opening Day roster.

The first pitch will be at 1:05 and the game will be broadcast on New England Sports Network (NESN) for all in-market viewers.

Center field prospect with Jackie Bradley Jr.-esque defense, Ceddanne Rafaela, will lead off for the Sox in their first Grapefruit League game this preseason. Boston's skipper Alex Cora stated before the start of spring training that he believed Rafaela had a real shot to make the Opening Day roster as the starting center fielder.

Rafaela's defense has been heavily praised in his time with the Red Sox organization, but it's known that his bat needs work. A leadoff spot in Boston's lineup offers him a real chance to prove himself as trade rumors swirl around Jarren Duran, the everyday center fielder from last season.

Red Sox first spring training lineup features many players who could appear on Opening Day roster

Following Rafaela in the batting order is Wilyer Abreu, who will take up right field in the season's first contest. He's likely to wind up on the Opening Day roster but as Boston's left fielder — Masataka Yoshida will be taking most of his at-bats as the designated hitter this year.

The three and four spots go to Bobby Dalbec and Pablo Reyes, who could also make the Opening Day squad, most likely as bench players. Dalbec has been earning praise from Cora all offseason and he's said on multiple occasions that Dalbec has a shot at making the team. Reyes had some great looks in the bigs last season and he has more experience than the Sox's other backup infield option, Enmanuel Valdez.

Garrett Whitlock will start the game on the mound after a transformational offseason. The pitcher added pounds of muscle to his 6-foot-5 frame and he's earned much acclaim from Cora for his changes. Whitlock is among many relievers fighting for a starting role in the Red Sox's rotation.

The rest of the squad is likely to be in the minors for the season. Romy González, a recently acquired utility infielder from the White Sox, would be a good backup infield option in case of injury to one of Boston's starters.

The Orioles' high-profile offseason addition Corbin Burnes will be starting on the bump. The Red Sox will be immediately challenged — hopefully, the roster this organization built can handle the pressure.

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