While shortstop Stephen Drew remains available on the free agent market, the Red Sox have yet to name their Opening Day shortstop. Xander Bogaerts appeared in just eight regular-season games at short, before supplanting Will Middlebrooks at third base in the postseason.
Some have speculated that Bogaerts (6 feet 3 inches, 185 pounds) will eventually outgrow shortstop. Third base coach Brian Butterfield, though, has no qualms about Bogaerts's future position.
"I love him as a shortstop," said Butterfield, who was at Fenway Park on Saturday as part of the Christmas at Fenway event. "Even though he's a bigger body, he's athletic. He's very compact. He moves his feet like a smaller guy playing shortstop. He has great body control. He has a good imagination. He can get the ball in the air quickly when he needs to.
"He's continuing to learn, and I think the most important thing for him, and the thing that he did so well, was the more reps he got at the big league level the more comfortable he got."
Until this season, Bogaerts, who turned 21 on Oct. 1, had played only shortstop since joining the Red Sox in August 2009. He appeared in 10 games at third base for Triple-A Pawtucket in 2013 and nine games at the major league level in the regular season, before finishing out the playoffs at third base. Still, Butterfield is convinced Bogaerts's future is where it began.
"I'm convinced he's going to be a shortstop until the day he retires," Butterfield said. "I really feel strongly that he can be an outstanding shortstop in the big leagues."
Bogaerts likely will have a full spring training with the big league team this season. Out of camp to play in the World Baseball Classic last season, Bogaerts appeared in just six spring training games for the Red Sox — two at third base and four at short.
"I think that'll be huge," Butterfield said. "Spring training is the most important time of the year because you're preparing not only as a team, but individuals are preparing for their craft, whether it's offensively or defensively, or everything. "
With the increased workload because of the postseason, pitching coach Juan Nieves may look to adjust offseason and spring training routines for some, delaying their appearances in spring training games until later in the schedule.
"The manipulation of a staff all the way through October has to be very precise," Nieves said. "Never jeopardizing the fact of being ready [Opening Day]. But I think overall we have to take in consideration the innings of [Jon] Lester, the innings that [John] Lackey pitched. But guys like [Koji] Uehara, [Junichi] Tazawa, and [Craig] Breslow, we got to pick and choose their outings. They're going to continue throwing every other day or have two days off and throw a side.
"You take into consideration the workload of those guys, to give them a little bit of leeway in spring training and then building up to start the season real strong."
Despite starting the season on the disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, Breslow pitched a combined 70⅔ innings between the regular season, minor league rehabs, and his first postseason experience. It was his heaviest workload since 2010.
The lefthander has not started throwing this offseason, but acknowledges he may make some adjustments to his workout routines.
"If your plan is to play into October and late into October, there might be time to save throws or pitches earlier on in the season, whereas typically I'd just get the ball and throw it till I was tired," Breslow said. "And now I understand some of the maintenance stuff I could probably take better care, and so I'll do that."
Nieves also touched on several other Red Sox topics:
■ Righthander Brandon Workman will be treated as a starter in spring training.
■ Recently acquired righthander Edward Mujica’s playoff experience, ability to throw strikes, and unfamiliarity to American League hitters are a big plus.
■ Catcher A.J. Pierzynski, with whom he spent five seasons (2008-2012) on the White Sox, will be a big asset.
"I think when you see A.J. as an opposing player I think you don't like him," Nieves said. "But when you see him on your own team you're going see the guy who comes in every day and plays hard. He wants to be in that big situation. He's played for a championship before, he's played in playoffs before.
"He's going to bring a lot of energy, a lot of ways to win, a lot of will to win. It's going to be exciting to see how he manages our pitching staff."
According to a team source, Double-A Portland manager Kevin Boles will be promoted to manage Pawtucket, and Billy McMillon, who managed Single-A Salem the last two seasons, will manage Portland. Boles, who turns 39 in January, managed Portland the past three seasons. His father, John, managed the Marlins in 1996 and 1999-2001. McMillon, 42, has been on the Sox minor league coaching staff since 2008. Pawtucket's job opened when Gary DiSarcina left to take the third base coaching job with the Angels . . . Since the acquisition of Pierzynski, catcher Ryan Lavarnway has not had any discussions regarding his role with the team. "I haven't had any conversations with [general manager] Ben [Cherington] about that, so I don't know," Lavarnway said. "A.J.'s a good player. He's been pretty established. He's had a lot of success at the plate and behind it, and we want to win."