Red Sox ready to get answers from Grapefruit action

Red Sox ready to get answers from Grapefruit action

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- For the Red Sox, the big league games are ready to start Friday, and the hope is that they don't end until late October.

The Grapefruit League opener against the Mets on Friday (1:05 p.m. ET) at JetBlue Park is the first of 38 games in preparation for Opening Day on April 3.

Aside from the lone day off from the game schedule on March 22, the Red Sox will play baseball every single day until April 2.

Starting Friday, questions will be answered.

"We come into Spring Training with the back end our rotation to be decided, to solidify third base, to answer who's going to be the secondary guy behind the plate in that tandem, and then take a look at different lineups -- both left-handed and right-handed," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

Friday's lineup has Brock Holt leading off at shortstop, followed by Andrew Benintendi (LF), Hanley Ramirez (DH), Jackie Bradley Jr. (CF), Bryce Brentz (RF), Marco Hernandez (2B) Sandy Leon (C), Allen Craig (1B) and Josh Rutledge (3B).

"This is when you get your timing back and make sure your feet stay under you and try to get your work in," said Bradley. "It's good to have some competition and playing some games, get in a rhythm. At the end of the day, that's kind of what we're moving toward. Playing in real games and things that matter."

Several regulars (Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and Pablo Sandoval) played in Thursday's college exhibition against Northeastern. With an extra week of Spring Training, Farrell is waiting a couple of days to start playing his starters back-to-back.

Moreland, a free-agent acquisition this winter, belted a homer against Northeastern on Thursday.

Moreland's three-run home run

"You don't really set expectations other than to get your work in and try to stay healthy through the spring and just be ready to go once the season starts," said Moreland.

Any numeric goals?

"A World Series ring on my finger. That would be the ideal number," Moreland said.

Dustin Pedroia, Boston's longest-tenured player now that David Ortiz is retired, will make his debut on Saturday against the Twins.

While Farrell is waiting another week to put his regular starting pitchers into games, Friday presents an opportunity for lefty Henry Owens to prove he can be a viable depth option after a tough 2016.

Owens was considered one of Boston's best prospects a couple of years ago, but his stock has fallen due to lack of command.

"I think the one thing that Henry Owens did was follow a detailed plan for him to add weight, add strength, particularly core strength," said Farrell. "He started his throwing program earlier in the calendar, all by design, and it's shown at least some initial improvements, at least in his body control, better energy in his delivery. "

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.