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Will Middlebrooks, Daniel Nava, Jackie Bradley Jr. Report to Boston Red Sox Spring Training

February 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 PM
By Ron Juckett

'Line-Up' photo (c) 2012, AliHanlon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Three position players, Jackie Bradley Jr, Will Middlebrooks and Daniel Nava, certain to be on the 25-man roster, started their 2014 seasons Monday at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida.

They were part of six players, prospects Drake Britton, Alex Hassan and Blake Swihart, to open up Spring Training on the first business day of February, according to the Boston Globe and WBZ.

A gentle reminder that the report date for non-pitchers and catchers is February 18 and the first full squad practice is February 20. The trucks that carry the equipment from Boston to Fort Myers is not scheduled to leave town until next Saturday.

The fact these players have started three weeks early coming off a very long World Series championship season will warm the hearts of the coldest of fans here in snowy New England.

Bradley will take the extra couple weeks to help ensure he is the Opening Day center fielder, replacing the departed Jacoby Ellsbury. With Boston bringing Grady Sizemore in on a major league contract, some have speculated that there could be an actual competition for the job between the two.

The reality is, however, Bradley is going to have to have a disastrous Spring Training to lose the job AND Sizemore is going to need to relearn how to hit live pitching again after injuries have kept him sidelined for three years. It is possible Sizemore could take the job, but the more realistic expectation is getting himself into game shape without reinjuring either of his surgically repaired needs.

Nava, since clubbing a grand slam against the Philadelphia Phillies in his major league debut (on a nationally televised FOX game at Fenway Park), has flown under the radar of most fans. Platooning with Jonny Gomes last year in left, Nava hit .303 in 134 games. His 29 doubles and 66 RBI’s were a huge cog in the Red Sox’ offensive machine.

Middlebrooks starts his 2014 baseball year under a huge cloud of uncertainty.

After losing his third base starting job between the American League Championship and the World Series to Xander Bogaerts, Middlebrooks future in Boston has been in various shades of limbo.

With 2013 primary shortstop Steven Drew still unsigned, it is not clear as Spring Training gets underway if Middlebrooks will be the starting third baseman, a utility player if Drew re-signs with the Red Sox or if he is traded. Reportedly, the Miami Marlins have enquired repeatedly over his availability.

Middlebrooks ending his offseason three weeks early says volumes about his desire to start the season as the Red Sox third baseman. Injuries and a prolonged slump saw him spend some time in Triple-A Pawtucket. He is hoping to shake off the end of last season, however, and show everyone he is capable of protecting David Ortiz and Mike Napoli as another power bat in the lineup, and not just as Jenny Dell’s boyfriend.

Unofficial captain Dustin Pedroia has been text messaging his teammates to get ready for what is to come. If you thought there might be a slippage coming off last year’s championship run, you would be wrong.

This team is hungry.

Tags: Baseball, Boston, Boston Red Sox, Daniel Nava, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Fort Myers, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Napoli, MLB, Spring Training, Will Middlebrooks

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