Morning report: Last days in F-L-A

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
7:24
AM ET
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good morning from the Fort, where after today, the next time the Sox venture outside of Lee County to play will be next Monday in the Bronx, where the extended weather forecast is not promising: 60 percent chance of showers, high temperature 52, lows in the high 30s.

But of course, a lot can happen between now and then: like, say, Jackie Bradley Jr. being added to the Red Sox roster and Vernon Wells being fitted for pinstripes. As a fan, which would you find a more exciting development? Thought so.

My colleague, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal, laid out his thoughtful argument here for why the Sox should hold off on calling up Bradley here. But if general manager Ben Cherington is to be taken at his word, the Sox will not make that decision based on service time, but on three criteria: Will Bradley get regular playing time? Is he ready? And are the Sox a better team with him? Every time Bradley takes the field this spring, he gives a resounding yes to all three questions.

The whole issue of service time -- promote him now, you’re risking he’ll walk as a free agent after 2018 instead of 2019 -- presumes that the Red Sox will not find another way besides sending him down to extend their control over the player beyond ’18. Yes, he is a Scott Boras client, but if Bradley is the player he appears to be, the Sox always have the option of locking him up with a contract extension. That’s getting WAY ahead of ourselves, but so is worrying about 2019. Sometimes, as Cherington said, it is best to keep these things simple, and if Jackie Bradley Jr. can help the team get off to a good start in 2013, do it.

And there’s no question that Bradley has spiked interest with a fan base that appears at something less than fever pitch about the team’s prospects this season.

Need a refresher on how service time works? Check this out.

The Red Sox are scheduled to play the Orioles in Sarasota this afternoon. Tuesday is a scheduled day off, and then the Sox finish off the exhibition portion of their schedule with four games in the Fort: Wednesday at the Jet against the Marlins, Thursday night at the Jet against the Twins, Friday afternoon in Hammond Stadium against the Twins, then Saturday afternoon against the Twins in the Jet.

The Sox break camp Saturday and fly to New York after the game. The team is prohibited by the collective bargaining agreement from scheduling a workout on Sunday, the day before the season, but manager John Farrell said the staff plans to be at Yankee Stadium and anyone who wants to work out “voluntarily” is permitted to do so. My guess is the head count will show 24 roster players. The only guy missing will be John Lackey, and only because he is scheduled to stay back and pitch in a camp game that day as a final tuneup to his first start of the season.

Things to watch for this week? Besides a final resolution of Bradley’s status, Ryan Sweeney, Lyle Overbay and Mitch Maier can all exercise opt-out options. The guess here is that Overbay will be gone, with Sweeney on the bubble, as the Sox have to decide between the outfielder and first baseman Mike Carp. Maier is out with a sprained wrist and looks like a guy the Sox would like to keep around as outfield depth in Triple-A. A decision on Daniel Bard also looms; the guess here is that he begins the season in Pawtucket, with the Sox keeping Clayton Mortensen, who is out of options.

Farrell said he also hopes that shortstop Stephen Drew, who has not played since being struck in the helmet by a pitch on March 7 and exhibiting concussion symptoms, will play in a game or two before camp ends. The symptoms are diminishing, Farrell told reporters Sunday.

Here's Monday's lineup:

1. Shane Victorino, CF
2. Jonny Gomes, LF
3. Mike Napoli, DH
4. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. Ryan Sweeney, RF
7. Jose Iglesias, SS
8. Brock Holt, 2B
9. Christian Vazquez, C
SP -- Graham Godfrey, RHP

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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