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Ask Nick: What’s the plan in the outfield?

Red Sox manager John Farrell will have to decide which outfielders to keep on the roster when Shane Victorino returns from the disabled list.

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Red Sox manager John Farrell will have to decide which outfielders to keep on the roster when Shane Victorino returns from the disabled list.

There’s lots of concern about the outfield situation in this mailbag. Folks are wondering who the odd man out is when Shane Victorino returns.

My guess is Jackie Bradley Jr. goes back to Pawtucket if there are no other injuries or a phantom DL stint for one of them.

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Otherwise, welcome to the 2014 Red Sox season. It has been underwhelming so far. Some of the issues we thought might crop up have so far: left-side infield defense was air-tight last season with Stephen Drew, but not as much this season. The loss of Jacoby Ellsbury has been felt and he’s also having a good season in New York.

We’re waiting for Clay Buchholz to take that next step, but he took a backward one in his first start. Victorino hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

But as they say, the season is young.

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Here’s the mailbag:

What do they see in Felix Doubront that I don’t? Last year started out rough, too.

Really talented guy who just can’t seem to get over the hump. Very consistent for about 15 starts last year. The goal is to keep growing that number. He’d better watch out because Brandon Workman needs a spot in the rotation.

The Red Sox appear to have a surplus of outstanding pitchers and catchers in their organization. Which pitcher(s) do you see possibly moving into the rotation in the second half of the season due to injuries or unforeseen circumstances? Also, A.J. Pierzynski seems to have an uncanny ability to pick off runners, but David Ross not so much. Do you see Christian Vasquez getting called up sooner or later?

They would love to get Brandon Workman in the starting rotation somehow. That may require someone getting hurt or traded. I’m sure we’ll see cameos from Allen Webster, Drake Britton, and Rubby De LaRosa. As for Vazquez, don’t see it unless there’s a major injury to A.J. or Ross, or if the Red Sox fall out of the race.

With the new CBA, does anyone win from free agent compensation? Players won’t get signed and now teams aren’t getting draft picks (Mariners and Red Sox). Is anyone happy with it? Can it be renegotiated if both the owners and players agree? This system doesn’t seem to benefit anyone.

It’ll be tweaked when the CBA is reopened before 2016. Not sure to what extent, though. In some ways I like the system. It makes the player and the team make tough decisions. The player has to decide whether to take a qualifying offer. The team has to decide whether to make it. A team has to decide whether to give up a draft pick in order to sign a top free-agent that could make their team better now. I like the fact the system creates these tough choices.   

 I saw that you took a snarky shot at the people who are tired of your constant Scott Boras client references. It seems a bit disingenuous that you try to cover your tracks by claiming it’s because there’s many young Sox players who are Boras clients. Rather, people are really just tired of you using the once hallowed space of the Sunday Notes column to incessantly talk about Boras’ clients like Stephen Drew, Johnny Damon, Nelson Cruz or any other number of players you write about on Lord Boras’ behalf.

Can’t remember the last time I mentioned Johnny Damon, but thanks for mentioning him. Helped win the 2004 World Series. You should want to hear about him, but maybe you’re not a Red Sox fan. Stephen Drew is an interesting story. I will continue to write about him .... over and over and over again until there’s an outcome to his very unique dilemma. The Red Sox could use him. Nelson Cruz was a terrific signing by the Orioles. Great bargain. Scott Boras is one of the most important people in baseball. So I will always write about important people in baseball. Hope you didn’t get “tired” by the answer.

With so many prospects in the minors that are redundant, like 2B Mookie Betts and 3B Garin Cecchini, what do you think the Sox will do with them?

Both guys are athletic enough to be moved elsewhere. Betts could go to CF; Cecchini will likely stay at third and if he starts to make a case for coming to Boston, there’s the possibility Will Middlebrooks could be moved to the outfield.

What’s the deal for Grady Sizemore or Jackie Bradley Jr. when Shane Victorino comes back? Who’s going down?

If nobody is hurt (or no phantom DL’s) , I would think JBJ goes back to Pawtucket.

Does the outfield defense seem exceptionally poor these first few weeks? It seems runners are taking the extra base quite a bit.

Having Victorino out of the defensive mix makes quite a difference. JBJ is a very good outfielder though. Nava and Gomes have had their poor moments. The Ellsbury/Victorino dynamic in CF/RF was very good. Another missing ingredient from last year’s team.

Given his injury history, is Middlebrooks a realistic long-term option at the hot corner?

I’m wondering more about Cecchini’s rise and whether Will becomes a left fielder or first baseman.

Is Lester going to shine or be mediocre this year? Have him in fantasy.

I lean toward shine. No signs he’s off his game at all. Contract year, too. Always good for fantasy.

How long till Christian Vazquez or Blake Swihart are up and catching with the big club?

We won’t see them unless there’s an injury. A.J. Pierzynski can reallly hit and handle pitchers; David Ross is really good defensively. I know they’re both 37, but Pierzysnki has been so durable for many years.

Will Clay Buchholz ever be the pitcher he was?

I’m not sure what he was. We all know he’s the best pitcher on the team. He has to show durability. He’s got everything else. I know there’s some decrease in velocity, but I honestly don’t think it’s that big of an issue with him because his pitch repertoire is so diverse.

Do you think the Red Sox are going to add another outfielder?

If we get toward the trading deadline and the current crop is struggling, then yes. It all depends on where the Red Sox are in the standings. They could use some more righthanded power.

What is the possibility of a Giancarlo Stanton trade in season? Would JBJ have to be part of the package to make that happen?

Marlins GM Dan Jennings has told me repeatedly they’re going to make every effort to sign him long-term. They have a good thing going there and they don’t want to mess it up. This offseason will be telling. They’ll make a big time effort to sign him, but if they can’t I’ve always said Boston is the favorite to land him.

Are you as annoyed with the new call review system as I am?

I’m annoyed by the transfer play. Plays are being upheld that shouldn’t be. They look like blatant out calls to me.

Did Theo Epstein get another ring? I feel strongly that he deserves one for drafting and developing the majority of our current core and prospects. What is a the protocol concerning that? Also, if he did get one did Bobby Valentine get one too? I feel like he shouldn’t get one yet Theo should.

Any relation to Bogaerts? Neither Theo or Bobby were here in 2013. Therefore, no ring. Unless they bought one.

Have a question for the next Ask Nick Red Sox Mailbag? Submit it here.
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