After a disappointing showing in the 2014 season, the Red Sox took to the offseason to rebuild. With new additions to the pitching staff like Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson the Sox looked to rebuild with a younger and deeper pitching staff. The team also looked to beef up the middle of the line up after a below average production in the previous season. Hanley Ramirez and “The Panda” Pablo Sandoval look to bolster the struggling offense for this season. The following describes what you need to know as Red Sox fans in the 2015 season.

Student Discounted Tickets:

Last season, the Red Sox implemented the “Student 9’s” ticket program. This program allows for local high school and college students to enjoy a Red Sox game for just nine dollars. Although the tickets are standing room only, these are the cheapest tickets that can be bought for a game at Fenway. Even better, there are special “College Themed Nights.” The goal of these nights is to drive college students to games but at an affordable price. April 28th is “Freshman Night” and the 29th is “Greek Night.” Student tickets can be purchased at redsox.com/student with a quick registration just to identify that you are in fact a student in the area.

 

Rising Superstars – Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts:

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 If you watched the Red Sox last season, you know these two names. Mookie Betts is a former 2B who switched to CF, and is now the current starter in CF. He struggled last year as he adjusted to the new position and some questioned even trading him as part of a deal to get ace Cole Hamels from the Phillies. Xander Bogaerts is the starting SS, who struggled last year in his first full season after showing patience and poise in the championship run in 2013. Both 22 year olds have had their struggles in the beginning of their short careers, but if the first month is any indication of how the season will go, these prospects are starting to look like every day starters for the Red Sox. Both are playing smart defense and have hot bats in the beginning of the season. Betts and Bogaerts are filling huge roles for the team, as SS and CF are key positions, but as other veterans like Victorino and Napoli struggle early, these young guns are leading the Sox to wins on a nightly basis.

Key Returning Players:

1*PgEqk-_32uF41oV-U7CL2ALongtime players of the team: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli are key returning players for the Red Sox. All three dirt dogs are known for their big bats, combining for 59 HR’s last season and led the team in hits (along with Brock Holt). But just like everything else in sports, age and health are always lingering questions. Pedroia is coming off thumb surgery, Napoli is coming off sleep apnea surgery, and Big Papi is 39 years old. The Red Sox have added other talent for this season, but if they can’t stay healthy, the team will likely struggle.

 

No Ace, No Problem?

1*XLU7rklE5bA0iIPpPBFQsQIn the MLB, successful teams typically have those one or two pitchers that lead the pitching staff and can be relied on when needed. In previous years, aces like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Jon Lester have led the Red Sox to success. This year, the Sox ace is Clay Buchholz? Yeah, it is. Rick Porcello, Wade Miley, Justin Masterson and Joe Kelly makes for a strong and deep staff, but none of these pitchers are aces. We know the bats for the Sox are going to come out hot this year after a weak season last year. The questions that remain for this Red Sox team however is do you need an ace to win in this league? Can the Red Sox outscore their opponents on a nightly basis? No one knows the answer to these questions yet, which will make for an entertaining season to say the least.

 

Vazquez Has Season-Ending Tommy John Surgery:

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Since the retirement of Jason Varitek, the Red Sox have looked to fill the shoes of the captain himself. After trying to groom Jarrod Saltalamacchia over the past few years, the Red Sox were ready to try out a new face, Christian Vazquez. The 24 year old impressed everyone at spring training, with some even referring to him as “the next Yadier Molina.” The Red Sox had committed to Vazquez, and named him the starting catcher to start the year. Vazquez then sprained his elbow at the end of spring training, and ultimately had to go under the knife for Tommy John surgery, which requires a full year of recovery. With the injury, the Red Sox promoted veteran Ryan Hanigan to the starting role and acquired Sandy Leon from the Nationals as the back up. It should be interesting to watch the position throughout the year, and if highly anticipated prospect Blake Swihart can prove that he can be promoted to Boston, as he starts the year in AAA Pawtucket.

No Worries Off The Bench:

With outfielders like Rusney Castillo and Jackie Bradley Jr. starting the year in the minors, it is quite showing how much depth this team has. Brock Holt and Allen Craig are very capable starters in this league that are coming off the bench for the Red Sox this season. The depth should be helpful as the team’s goal is to remain healthy throughout the year and hopefully into the playoffs in October.

 

A Look At The Rest Of The Division:

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As for the rest of the division, the Sox don’t have it easy. Baltimore Orioles, who won the division last season, come back with a very similar team and could be the Red Sox’s top threat. Toronto Blue Jays are built to win now. After acquiring C Russell Martin, 3B Josh Donaldson, and SP Mark Beuhrle, the team is the oldest in the MLB and is scary on the mound and at the plate. The Tampa Bay Rays don’t look as intimidating, but with a young pitching staff and Evan Longoria still at 3rd base, the team can still beat the Red Sox on any given night and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Finally, The big bad New York Yankees are always a tough matchup for the Sox. Although they lost future Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, the Yankees still have key players like Mark Texiera, Carlos Beltran, Masahiro Tanaka and former Red Sox CF Jacoby Ellsbury. The Yankees come to Fenway on May 1st for a three game series, although early, every game in the division counts, even more since the division is so tough this year.

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