ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox will start next season March 31 at Baltimore, the fourth consecutive year the team has opened on the road.
Major League Baseball released its schedule for next season Tuesday. The most unusual aspect for the Red Sox was playing their home opener against the Milwaukee Brewers, a National League team.
The Sox last opened at home against Milwaukee in 1975 when the Brewers were in the AL and had Hank Aaron as their designated hitter. The Red Sox won that game, 5-2, behind Luis Tiant.
The Sox will play 20 interleague games with home series against the Brewers, Braves, Cubs, and Reds. They will play the Braves, Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds on the road.
It will be the first time since 2007 the Red Sox will not play the Phillies in the regular season.
The Sox will play four consecutive games against the Braves from May 26-29. The first two games will be Turner Field in Atlanta and the second two at Fenway Park.
The Yankees make their first visit to Fenway April 22-24. The Orioles will be the opponent on Patriots Day and on July 4.
Pedroia leads off
With Jacoby Ellsbury back in Boston being treated for a fracture in his right foot, Dustin Pedroia hit leadoff and went 1 for 4 in the Sox’ 2-0 win over the Rays Tuesday night.
Pedroia has hit leadoff 77 times in his career but Tuesday was the first time since Oct. 3, 2009. Until Ellsbury returns, it’s a look the Red Sox could use often.
“In Jacoby’s absence, we felt like we needed a guy that would see a lot of pitches,” manager John Farrell said. “I think it might help Shane [Victorino] in that 2-hole to see how pitchers are going to attack a righthanded hitter.
“It also gives us an opportunity to get David [Ortiz] to the plate in the first inning. There are a number of things that went into putting Pedey in the leadoff spot. Felt like this is a chance to get our top four or five hitters in the top half of the lineup.”
Farrell said Pedroia suggested the idea over the weekend and the two discussed it Monday.
“The one thing that we’ve really worked hard at is maintaining some continuity,” Farrell said. “If this is one [lineup] that gives us that continuity until Jacoby returns, we’re certainly willing to stay the course.”
Said Pedroia: “It’s fine with me. I’m going to have the same approach.”
Farrell plans to give rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. playing time in center field. Victorino was there Tuesday.
“We’re not locked in to any one thing. But the fortunate thing is we have depth and options,” Farrell said.
Add some salt
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who missed five games with a sore lower back last week, was back in the lineup for the second straight game. He threw out two runners stealing early in the game and had a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning.
Saltalamacchia is feeling better but Farrell plans to judiciously use his catcher.
“He’s got one view and I’ve got another,” Farrell said. “He feels like he can go every day, which you love about him. I think it’s probably smart given what he dealt with that we don’t throw him out there every single day.”
“He’s going to get the majority of the reps behind the plate. But I’m a little bit leery of running him out there three consecutive days.”
Staying in line
The Red Sox have every Monday off through the end of the regular season and an extra day off Sept. 26. Farrell plans to use his starters in order and not change the rotation much beyond fitting Felix Doubront back in.
The struggling lefthander is being skipped this turn to work on his mechanics and get some rest.
“I think it’s important that we respect what guys have done and we stay as consistent with their routine as much as possible. They’re all going to have to pitch,” Farrell said. “I’m not looking to go away from what has been successful so far.”
Escape from NY
The team’s charter flight from LaGuardia Airport in New York Sunday night was delayed for several hours by a mechanical issue and did not arrive in Florida until after midnight . . . Former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who retired earlier this season after a 17-year career, is working this series with Don Orsillo on NESN . . . Special assistant to the general manager Pedro Martinez is with the team on this road trip and in uniform before games. He joined Lowe in the booth early in the game . . . Farrell on Stephen Drew playing shortstop against Rays lefthander David Price instead of rookie Xander Bogaerts: “Stephen Drew has been one of our mainstays and certainly that’s going to remain.” . . . With Clay Buchholz coming off the 60-day disabled list to start the game, the Red Sox designated righty Jose De La Torre to make room on the 40-man roster . . . Major league teams will commemorate the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks Wednesday with on-field tributes before games. All on-field personnel will wear American flag patches on their caps and “We Shall Not Forget” ribbons will be displayed in ballparks. The Red Sox will hold their annual Day of Remembrance Blood Drive at Fenway Park from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donors should enter through Gate D and identification is needed . . . Brock Holt’s two-run single in the eighth inning propelled the Triple A Pawtucket Red Sox to a 2-1 win over Durham in the opener of the best-of-five International League championship series. . . . Sean Coyle had four RBIs to help the Single A Salem Red Sox defeat visiting Potomac, 6-4. Salem won the Carolina League championship series, 3-0.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.