Apr-03-2017, 07:58 AM #1Status :Rank : LegendJoin Date : Oct 8, 2009Posts : 67,323Threads : 1817Last Online : Apr-12-2017 @ 01:14 PM
Game 1 : #Pirates @ #RedSox : 04.03.17
Gerrit Cole, RHP #45
2016 : 7-10, 3.88 ERA
Cole will make his first Opening Day start and first career appearance at Fenway Park. Cole battled through injuries last year and posted a 3.88 ERA in 21 starts, but he put together an excellent spring and seems poised to bounce back
Rick Porcello, RHP #22
2016 : 22-4, 3.15 ERA
For the first time in his career, the sinkerballer will take the ball on Opening Day. This, after winning the American League's Cy Young Award last season. Porcello can't wait to get back to Fenway, where he went 13-1 with a 2.97 ERA last season.
Post-Papi Sox open season vs. Cutch, Bucs
By Mark Feinsand / MLB.com | April 1st, 2017
The calendar may read 2017 for the rest of us, but for the Red Sox, consider this to be the year 1 A.P. -- After Papi -- as Boston embarks on its first season in 15 years without David Ortiz beginning Monday at Fenway Park against the Pirates (2:05 p.m. ET).
This won't be the first Opening Day without Ortiz, who missed the first three weeks of the 2013 season with an Achilles injury, but unlike that season, the Red Sox won't be adding his thunderous bat to the lineup a few weeks later.
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"We're very excited about the group that's here," said manager John Farrell, who is 3-1 in season openers with the Sox. "David's going to be missed; we know that. But when you look at the overall athleticism, you look at the overall depth to our lineup. There's a scenario, like Pablo Sandoval hitting in the seven-, eight-hole. A full year of Andrew Benintendi is going to be an exciting one, in and of itself. And the constant growth of the younger players -- [Xander] Bogaerts, [Mookie] Betts, Benintendi, Jackie Bradley Jr.
"One thing I think our fans have really grasped onto and identified with over the past couple of years is that this is a team that can score runs in many different ways. The athleticism allows us to run the bases more aggressively than maybe teams we had compared to a number of years ago. The overall depth and the young athletic approach that our guys have should be big."
Betts broke out with an MVP-caliber season last year, while Bradley and Bogaerts joined him on the American League All-Star team. Hanley Ramirez had a stellar season at the plate and the Red Sox have high hopes for top prospect Benintendi, not to mention the return of Sandoval, who showed up to camp in terrific shape after missing virtually all of 2016 with a shoulder injury.
Farrell said Sandoval is "playing with a chip on his shoulder" after the events surrounding his first two years in Boston, an attribute that could serve the Red Sox well in Year 3 of his five-year deal.
"He's had a resurgence in his own way and it's been great to see," Farrell said. "We talk about a reconditioned body. The energy which he's displayed, whether it's been on defense, whether it's been on running the bases and certainly the way he's swung the bat. The bat speed has returned, his at-bats against left-handed pitching have been more consistent than what we've had compared to the last couple of years."
The Pirates' longtime face of the franchise will still be in the lineup, albeit at a different position. Andrew McCutchen, who has started the past seven openers in center field and played all 1,175 of his career games at that spot, will make his debut in right field.
"He's hungry," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He's committed, as he always is. He's on a mission."
The move was not McCutchen's idea, as the Pirates decided their best defensive alignment was Starling Marte in center and McCutchen in right, with Gregory Polanco handling left. General manager Neal Huntington has stressed that the decision had less to do with McCutchen's ability to play center field than Marte's outfield prowess.
"What was amazing in the process as we were working through it and we made the decision, we walked through it with Andrew," Huntington said. "Gregory Polanco's first question was, 'How does Andrew feel about this?' Starling Marte's first question was, 'How does Andrew feel about this?' One of Andrew's first questions was, 'How do Starling and Gregory feel about this?'
"From the human side, it's not easy. Andrew McCutchen wants to play center field. If we didn't have Starling Marte, we're not making this move. We just think we have an exceptional center fielder from now on in Starling Marte and we believe our best outfield alignment, our most productive, our most efficient outfield alignment was the alignment that we put together."
So while some things might be different for these two teams, others remain the same. Dustin Pedroia will make his 11th consecutive Opening Day start for the Red Sox, and although his longtime teammate won't be there with him, the mission remains the same regardless of the cast of characters.
"Yeah, I don't look at it any differently than previous years," Pedroia said. "You show up to win every day. That's what we're going to try to do."
Three things to know about this game
• This is the first time since 2010 that the Red Sox have opened the season at Fenway Park and just their fourth opener at home since 1995.
• No Red Sox hitter has more than three career at-bats against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole, who has held the seven hitters he's faced to a combined 5-for-19 (.263) with no extra-base hits. This will be Cole's first Opening Day start.
• Red Sox Opening Day starter Rick Porcello has held Pirates hitters to a combined 6-for-46 (.130) with a .401 OPS. John Jaso, who is 3-for-14 against Porcello, is the only Pirate with a home run against the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner.
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