Spring training preview: Outfielders

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Spring training preview: Outfielders

Thursday January 31st, 2013
Boston Red Sox: Spring training preview: Outfielders Fourth in a series of spring training roster breakdowns coming this week. Monday: starters. Tuesday: Relievers. Wednesday: Infielders. Today: Outfielders. Friday: Catchers and DHs.
As the Red Sox prepare for spring training, here is a look at their outfielders:
Expected starters: Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Shane Victorino (RF), Jonny Gomes (LF).
In the mix: Ryan Sweeney, Daniel Nava, Alex Hassan.
Prospects of note: Jackie Bradley Jr., Bryce Brentz, Juan Carlos Linares, Jeremy Hazelbaker.
Organizational depth: Mitch Maier, Drew Sutton.
Out injured: Ryan Kalish (recovering from shoulder surgery).
Breakdown: The Sox remade their outfield, signing Gomes (two years, $10 million) and Victorino (three years, $39 million) to deals that seemed a little steep. But at least they're major leaguers after the tryout camp that went on for much of last season. Gomes is a poor defender who does not hit righthanders well. The Sox need a solid backup who can hit lefthanded. That could be Sweeney or perhaps the switch-hitting Nava, who is much better from the left side.
What's good: Victorino brings center field-quality defense to right field, a plus at Fenway Park. He also plays with energy, something the lifeless Sox could use ... Ellsbury missed much of 2010 with an injury, was a superstar in 2011, then missed much of 2012 with an injury. In his free agent walk year, the motivation should be there ... Bradley will be in his first major league camp. He could work his way into the mix ... Gomes has power from the right side and is an excellent clubhouse presence.
What's bad: Victorino has gone .267/.337/.434 the last two seasons, and the Sox will be his third team in less than a year ... Ellsbury has played only 250 of a possible 486 games (51 percent) the last three years ... Gomes has a career UZR of minus-25.8 in left field ... The starting outfielders hit 33 home runs last season.
Theme song: "Chemistry Class" by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.