Middlebrooks out, Napoli starts and Lester fights for opening day start

Tonight the Red Sox take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in another spring training exhibition game at JetBlue Park starting at 7:05pm ET. Here are a few notes and things to watch for during tonight's game.

  • Will Middlebrooks is out of the lineup. While the 24-year old third baseman was cleared for full participation the Red Sox are doing the smart thing by keeping him under a watchful eye. We should do the same as this situation (or not) develops.
  • Mike Napoli is back. The Red Sox signed Napoli this off-season, pulled their offer and then resigned at a significant low-risk rate. Napoli will have a lot to prove to the Sox, fans and maybe most importantly, himself. Tonight begins that journey for the Red Sox first baseman. 
  • Jon Lester could secure the opening day start. As we see more and more of the Red Sox starting rotation the odds on favorite to win the opening day job is still Lester, but Farrell's fear of commitment maybe be sending mixed signals. My question still remains: Is the opening day job up for grabs to anyone in the starting rotation or is Farrell trying to light a fire under his number one starter's "ace?"
Batting Order, Position
1. Ellsbury, Center Field
2. Pedroia, 2nd Base
3. Victorino, Right Field
4. Napoli, 1st Base
5. Drew, Shortstop
6. Nava, Left Field
7. Lavarnway, Catcher
8. Hamilton, Designated Hitter
9. Ciriaco, Third Base

The starting pitcher tonight is Jon Lester.

Follow Scott Levesque on Twitter at @scottlevesque.