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2023 baseball preview

Meet the Red Sox Opening Day roster

There have been some changes on the roster since the Red Sox lined up for last year's home opener (which also was Jackie Robinson Day).Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Read our Red Sox season preview: Chaim Bloom has transformed the Red Sox. What does the future hold?

The Red Sox will try to put aside their abysmal 2022 season that resulted in a fifth last-place finish in 11 years. They have undergone tons of turnover and are confident that this a club better suited to win than last year’s.

See the lineups for the Red Sox’ Opening Day game here.

Here’s a look at the 26-man roster:

Jump to a position: Infielders · Catchers · Outfielders · Starting pitchers · Relievers


Infielders

Triston Casas has nailed down the first base job.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

1B Triston Casas: The Red Sox gave him the keys to first base after designating Eric Hosmer for assignment. They have lacked a true power first baseman the last few years. Casas can be that.

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DH/1B Justin Turner: He will see most of his time in the designated hitter spot but will fill in at first for Casas when the Sox like the matchup. Turner brings a veteran presence, pop in the middle of the order, and elite bat-to-ball skills, though he turned 38 last November.

2B Christian Arroyo: He will have his chance to be a starting second baseman, but the key is staying on the field. When he plays, he has been productive, batting .277/.323/.426 with a .749 OPS the last two seasons.

SS Kiké Hernández: He had a lot to say at the start of spring, intimating that he wants to be the team leader after the exodus of some key cornerstone players, namely Xander Bogaerts. Hernández’s real value is as a utility player, but on this team, he will serve as interim shortstop until Trevor Story is able to return. That’s a tall order despite his defensive ability. Hernández had hip surgery last year, playing in just 93 games and hitting .222.

3B Rafael Devers: He’s the face of the franchise after the Red Sox inked him to a 10-year, $313.5 million extension. Devers is the lone star on this team and will be the biggest force in the lineup.

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Yu Chang: Chang has experience at all four infield positions over his four seasons in the majors but has hit only .213 over 196 games. The Sox feel he can be a helpful player off the bench.


Catchers

Reese McGuire, who joined the team in August last season, seems primed to be the No. 1 catcher.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Reese McGuire: Catching is the Sox’ biggest hole. McGuire will likely get the starting nod. Acquired at the trade deadline last season, he spent much of the spring getting to know the pitching staff under the watchful eye of Jason Varitek.

Connor Wong: He missed most of camp with a hamstring injury, but the Sox never ruled out an Opening Day timeline. He’s a smart catcher and knows how to navigate a pitching staff.


Outfielders

Alex Verdugo swings over from left field to right field this season.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

RF Alex Verdugo: He has been a league-average player since being traded to the Sox prior to the 2020 season, but he is looking to make that next leap. He will be the primary right fielder, a more demanding position at Fenway, after spending most of his tenure with the Sox in left.

CF Adam Duvall: He will be the starting center fielder, but Alex Cora acknowledged that they will manage the 34-year-old veteran’s workload. He has elite pull-side power, which should benefit him with the Green Monster. Duvall saw limited action last year because of a wrist injury but had 38 homers for the Marlins and Braves in 2021.

LF Masataka Yoshida: The Sox’ biggest free agent signing of the offseason put the baseball world on notice with a record 13 RBIs in the World Baseball Classic for Japan, the winner of the tournament. You can expect Yoshida to hit in the middle of the order, and he just might be the team’s most complete hitter.

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UTIL Rob Refsnyder: Was a spark plug last year. Will get his time against lefties.

UTIL Raimel Tapia: He had an impressive spring after signing a minor league dealthat Cora described as a steal. He has great bat-to-ball skills, sometimes to his detriment. Look for him to be the fourth outfielder at the outset.


Starting pitchers

02-17-23: Ft. Myers, FL: Red Sox pitcher Corey Kluber is pictured in the bullpen area. The Boston Red Sox continued Spring Training workouts at their Fenway South Complex. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff).Jim Davis/Globe Staff

RH Corey Kluber: A veteran who Cora said “knows how to pitch” will get the ball on Opening Day. He is some years removed from his Cy Young days, but, if healthy, he will be a quality starter with the experience to navigate a lineup effectively.

LH Chris Sale: “Humpty Dumpty got put back together,” Sale said during Winter Weekend in January. He made it through the spring unscathed and will be on the Opening Day active roster for the first time since 2019. If there’s any starter the Sox might need to survive in the competitive AL East, it’s Sale.

RH Garrett Whitlock (Injured list): He will start the season on the injured list after undergoing hip surgery last year, but he could be back for the second or third time through the rotation. The Sox brought him along slowly this spring, ensuring that he was healthy. They will give him a chance to be a full-time starter but his future and real value might be in the bullpen.

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RH Brayan Bello (Injured list): Like Whitlock, he will begin the season on the IL after dealing with forearm tightness at the start of camp. And, like Whitlock, he should be back in the mix soon. The young righthander, the Sox’ prized possession, comes with high hopes that he can make an immediate impact after an impressive showing during his first taste of big league competition late last season.

RH Kutter Crawford: He earned a spot on the Opening Day roster following an accomplished spring. He doesn’t wow you with stuff, but his pitch mix works and he knows how to get outs and keep his team in games.

RH Nick Pivetta: Perhaps a starter for the Sox, but probably a reliever for a lot of other clubs. Pivetta got bullied by the AL East last year, the division teeing off on him for a 6.72 ERA. If there is any value in the righthander, it’s this: He tied for the major league lead in starts last year (33).

LH James Paxton (Injured list): After a season lost to injury, he incurred a Grade 1 hamstring strain in his first Grapefruit League outing. He too is expected back soon, and he could be a valuable starter if healthy. It’s a big if, though.

RH Tanner Houck: He will get the ball for the third game of the season against the Orioles, but you might be looking at a reliever once some starters get healthy. He struggled this spring as a starter, showing a clear lack of feel for his pitches while toying with new ones (cutter). He has a devastating fastball/slider mix but can be erratic. However, he has a short-term memory regarding his failures and is as competitive as they come. That smells like an All-Star reliever.

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Relievers

Kenley Jansen, a longtime National Leaguer, will be the man counted on to close out games this season.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

RH John Schreiber: He was the Sox’ most reliable bullpen arm last season after being designated for assignment by the Tigers in 2021, then designated for assignment once more by the Sox at the end of that year’s camp. Despite a down spring this year, the Sox hope he can be a key piece again in the bullpen, but with less of a workload.

RH Ryan Brasier: It was a shock to those around baseball that Brasier, 35, was tendered a contract in the offseason after posting a 5.78 ERA in 2022. Since his stellar 2018 season (1.60 ERA), he has registered a 4.82 ERA in 168 games. Yet the Sox like the metrics on his pitches. However, it seems as though that music has finally grown tired, and Brasier will be fighting for his baseball life early on.

RH Kenley Jansen: He isn’t what he once was but is still one of the best closers in baseball, and he provides the structure Cora wants in the bullpen.

RH Chris Martin: Next to Jansen, Martin was the Sox’ best reliever signing. He is a veteran who knows how to throw strikes and limit walks, a huge plus for the bullpen at the end of games.

RH Kaleb Ort: He can reach 100 miles per hour with his fastball.

RH Josh Winckowski: A depth arm in the bullpen for the Sox to use as they try to get healthy. He allows contact but can eat innings.

LH Richard Bleier: The lone lefthanded reliever following the injury to Joelys Rodríguez. Bleier won’t strike you out but is a strike thrower.

RH Zack Kelly: Another depth arm whose spring performance didn’t do anything to prevent him from earning an Opening Day roster spot.

Read more from our Red Sox season preview


Julian McWilliams can be reached at julian.mcwilliams@globe.com. Follow him @byJulianMack.