BRADENTON, Fla. -- And then, finally, there were 25.
On their next-to-last day in Florida, the Red Sox got down to their Opening Day roster limit when they optioned left-handed starter Roenis Elias to Pawtucket.
The move validates that Steven Wright won the competition for the fifth starter in the rotation, and that Matt Barnes and Noe Ramirez have earned spots in the bullpen.
Elias, who seemed to be simulataneously competing for the No. 5 starter and a spot in the bullpen, will serve as a starter in Pawtucket, providing some depth for the rotation in case of injury or performance issues.
"This was competition in the rotation, which Steven has secured,'' offered John Farrell. "Looking at Roenis as a possible reliever, it's the things we've talked about it already: Who we're going to go up against. It's predominantly right-handed hitting lineups in the first three series (Cleveland, Toronto, Baltimore). A number of factors went into this.''
Elias had difficulty in his bullpen audition, getting shelled on one day's rest and discouraging the Red Sox from having him open the season as a reliever.
Meanwhile, both Barnes and Ramirez are stretched out sufficiently should the Red Sox need multiple innings from them early in the season. Lefty Robbie Ross Jr. could also fill that middle- or long-relief role.
Farrell is still undecided on whether Joe Kelly or Rick Porcello will line up as the No. 3 starter, but he was able to sketch out most of the pitching matchups for the first week.
David Price will pitch the first game in Cleveland on April 4. After an off-day, Clay Buchholz will pitch the second game on April 6. Either Kelly or Porcello will work the final game of the series, and the other will open the weekend series in Toronto the following night, April 8.
Price will come back on normal rest for the middle game, Saturday April 9, with Wright getting the road-trip finale on Sunday, April 10.
That leaves Buchholz as the starter for the home opener against Baltimore on April 11.