Leon likely to start, but has to improve at plate

Vazquez, Swihart also competing to catch for Red Sox

Leon likely to start, but has to improve at plate

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sandy Leon remains the front-runner to be the catcher for the Red Sox on Opening Day. But before making a final decision, manager John Farrell would like to see the switch-hitter get back to the offensive approach he had in June and July before slumping down the stretch.

"I think the workload started to get to him late in the season and we saw him expand the strike zone more than he did in the earlier months," said Farrell. "So he would have the lead on that position right now clearly, but we'd like to see that disciplined strike zone that he demonstrated early on be maintained."

Leon slashed .391/.434/.620 in his first 92 at-bats last season. In his final 160 at-bats, his line was .263/.333/.394.

Red Sox have options at catcher

Christian Vazquez and Blake Swihart are in competition with Leon. Two of the three catchers will make the team. Swihart is the only one who has options.

Worth noting

• Count Cardinals manager Mike Matheny among those who consider it too early to write off Allen Craig, who is a non-roster invitee with the Red Sox for the second straight Spring Training. Craig was a star for the Cardinals before going into a slump in 2014 and getting traded to Boston in July of that season.

"I still believe this guy is going to hit," said Matheny. "We watched something so impressive, the at-bats -- the consistent at-bats that he was able to take. It's frustrating because he knows what's in there. I would say the same thing for us. You hurt for a guy who has so much potential and he did so much for us. You'd like to see him be able to do what he's capable of doing. There's usually a physical component there somewhere and then it turns into confidence. Confidence is king in this game."

• Starting pitchers Steven Wright and Drew Pomeranz will throw their first live batting practice sessions Friday and could be inserted into the rotation by the middle of next week. Wright had bursitis in his right shoulder at the end of last season and Pomeranz is returning from left elbow woes.

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