Five questions on Opening Day
Opening Day is here. Here’s what this onlooker’s thinking about at the start of the Red Sox season, boiled down to five arbitrary questions:
Can Sandoval control his eating -- in season?
Pablo Sandoval’s former trainer, Ethan Banning, last year described his former client as a person who is not lazy, but has trouble overeating. The Red Sox and Sandoval seemed to get a grasp on the issue this winter. Is Sandoval in the best shape of his life? Nah. But he’s clearly at a decent playing weight. Now, to see if he can keep it off -- to see if the Sox can ensure Sandoval doesn’t turn to overeating at, say, the team hotel, if that’s how he copes with stress.
Will Craig Kimbrel still have meltdowns?
It was one of the quieter storylines of spring. Craig Kimbrel, whose control was questionable too often last season, worked on his direction and his mechanics as camp began. He studied video over the winter, but spring was the first chance to implement what he worked on. Is he fixed?
Forget Kimbrel’s abnormally high 3.40 ERA last season. His walk rate was 5.1 per nine innings, nearly two full batters more than his 3.3 figure the year before.
When does Drew Pomeranz end up in the bullpen?
There’s just no indication he’s healthy enough to handle a full season workload. There’s not much indication he’s healthy enough to be effective right now, either.
The innings workload last year, combined with his stem-cell injection over the winter, combined with how he’s looked in spring thus far, add up to a bleak picture.
But hey, maybe he’s just building up strength. Pomeranz threw 170 2/3 innings last season in the majors after throwing 86 the year before.
Will Sandoval, Moreland or Ramirez hold the lineup hostage?
The lineup’s a little tied up. Sandoval and Moreland both may end up great against right-handed pitching but terrible against southpaws. Do the Sox need one platoon? Two? Can the roster reasonably accommodate more than one?
If Hanley Ramirez (sore throwing shoulder) chooses not to try and gut it out at first base, he’s going to wreak his own brand of havoc on the lineup. Chris Young needs at-bats against lefties, but if Ramirez is the full-time designated hitter, then that means Young has to play the outfield, and that means one of the other outfielders -- Andrew Benintendi or Jackie Bradley Jr. -- would have to sit.
Let’s see if Ramirez proves both healthy and a consummate team player.
Will Dombrowski be disciplined if trouble arrives?
Maybe things are going poorly midseason. Maybe the Red Sox needed another starting pitcher. Maybe something shiny is dangled. Dave Dombrowski, the Sox president of baseball operations, has said that at some point, you have to stop trading young players. Is this that point?
Bonus: What the heck is wrong with David Price’s elbow?
He doesn’t know, apparently, so how could we?