AL East: spring position battles

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports


The Boston Red Sox, not counting the ongoing Will Middlebrooks experiment, currently only really have one hole to fill on their starting roster. They have a surplus of starters, an excellent and deep bullpen and a fantastic lineup and also Will Middlebrooks. However, coming into 2014, center field is a question mark. Shane Victorino is back in right field and Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes look to platoon over in left, and for the entire winter it’s been thought that prospect Jackie Bradley Jr. was the incumbent for the CF job.

After a very promising spring last year, Bradley struggled a bit in his brief appearance in the majors, but that didn’t appear to be changing the Red Sox’ plans given their lack of options at the position after the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury. Bradley, however, hasn’t had the benefit of a strong spring this year (he’s hit just .208 in his 27 plate appearances) and, more importantly, some unexpected competition for the spot has emerged from the depth chart.

Former superstar Grady Sizemore was signed to a speculative contract early in the offseason that would pay him only $750,000, but with incentives that could push the figure to $6 million should his performance return to it’s previous levels over a full season. Sizemore has been impressive thus far this spring, hitting .308 in limited at-bats, and looks to give Bradley a run for his money for the starting gig. Despite not having played in the majors in over two years, Sizemore is not far removed from being one of the league’s elite center fielders. The battle, considering the contracts of the players involved and the potential benefit to the championship-defending Sox, looks to be a harbinger of a huge win for the team.

My Gut Says: Sizemore stays healthy and gets the starting gig, but Bradley crushes the ball and gets the gig by the end of May.