The reigning World Series Champions began spring training this past week with high hopes for the 2019 season. The Boston Red Sox have brought back essentially the same team, and are poised to win back-to-back titles. The last franchise to do so was the New York Yankees from 1998–2000, when they actually won three in a row. If the Red Sox are going to complete this daunting task, they will need to stay healthy and pitch well, just like last season. Here are some of the key players to keep an eye on in spring training:
After years and years of devastating playoff performances, David Price finally broke through last October and played an important role in the Red Sox going the distance. With a huge weight off of his shoulders, he should come back with his confidence through the roof. Price changed his number from 24 to 10 this offseason, so he will begin 2019 with a bit of a new look. There were many rumors leading up to this offseason that he would opt out of his contract, but sure enough he opted in and will now be here for the next four years. Hopefully he can continue on this great path and help the Red Sox defend their title.
Perhaps the fan favorite of the pitching staff, Chris Sale is always prepared and only cares about winning. If there is any athlete who is going to give you no nonsense and is always laser focused, it is Sale. With all of that said, he has been known to physically break down towards the end of seasons—including last year as well. Although he came up big in game five against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he got the save in the clinching game, he did not have a great postseason. He also missed most of August and September, which fortunately did not come back to hurt the team. Alex Cora will absolutely manage Sale even more so this year than he did last year to attempt to prevent any sort of injury. As long as he can stay healthy throughout the season, he will be ready to perform at a high level.
Not an actual player of course, but maybe the most important asset the Red Sox have on their staff and roster is Alex Cora. Since hiring him last year, the entire vibe around the Red Sox changed in a positive manner. The players have seemed happier, the drama is minimal, and most importantly, the team has played much better. Cora deserves a ton of credit for the Red Sox's success, and we should expect a lot of the same in 2019. He has a remarkable way of connecting with his players, both the young ones and the veterans. It definitely helps that he was a former player in this market as well, so players already have a sense of respect for him. Cora will be as hungry as anyone to be at the helm of the first team to repeat in nearly 20 years.
Of course there are a plethora of other players that are essential to the team that have not been mentioned, such as Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Xander Bogaerts, etc., but that is what makes this team so good. They can beat you in so many different ways and with so many different guys. The regular season is still another month away, but it is time to start getting excited for it because the Red Sox have a real chance to do something special.