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Will Felix Doubront have a bust out
season in 2014? The Sox hope so.

Ben Whitehead
Contributing Writer

Hold on, Red Sox Nation. I know there’s snow on the ground all over New England, but Spring Training is just around the corner. The Red Sox first official workout for pitchers and catchers is exactly two months from today (Feb. 17).

With that said, let’s take a look at three players to watch out for in 2014:

1) Jackie Bradley Jr. – No, he’s not going to bat leadoff and steal 50 bases, but the kid is going to have a great year. At least, that’s the hope. Bradley Jr. will start in center, barring an unforeseen move to bring in another outfielder. With the job assured, he can focus on playing the game. He had a great Spring Training and then a not so hot MLB season. His time with the big club was valuable and the Sox are hopeful he has a bounce back year, similar to what Dustin Pedroia had after his initial season in Boston when Pedroia won the Rookie of the Year Award the following year.

2) Felix Doubront – For a guy who threw the most innings of his career and shined bright in the World Series, Doubront is anticipated to be competing for a backend spot in the Sox rotation. Assuming Clay Buchholz comes back healthy, the 1-4 starters would be Jon Lester, Buchholz, John Lackey and Jake Peavy. That leaves Doubront and veteran Ryan Dempster for the final spot, or a spot in the bullpen. Doubront needs to show he’s ready to take the next step, now that he’s been with the big club for two full seasons and his best ERA is 4.32. He can become a dominant four-or-five guy and provides Boston with a second lefty in the rotation along with Lester.

3) Dustin Pedroia – Don’t underestimate the power of competition. No, Pedroia doesn’t have somebody on his heels ready to take his spot. However, Pedroia batted .238 in the postseason, struck out 13 times in 16 games, and only hit .208 with one RBI in the World Series. It may not seem like a big deal since the Sox won the whole thing, but to Pedroia, that’s going to eat him up all winter. Let’s not forget that he tore ligaments in his thumb on Opening Day and still played with heart and passion for 160 games plus the postseason. With a couple of youngsters (Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks) likely in the starting nine on Opening Day, Pedroia will want to be a leader on the field and show that his contract is valid. Oh, and there’s the whole Robinson Cano signing for $130 million more than him that will have Pedroia wanting to prove he’s more worthy and a much better player. All the factors are there for Pedroia to play the best baseball we’ve seen – and that’s saying a lot.

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Ben Whitehead 12/17/2013 02:00:00 PM Edit
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