Opposite dugout: Red Sox begin their World Series defense

red-sox-square.jpgManager: John Farrell, second year
Record (2013): 97-65
Last 10 games: N/A
Who to watch (2013 stats): DH David Ortiz (.309/.395/.564, 30 HR, 103 RBIs); 2B Dustin Pedroia (.301/.372/.415, 42 doubles, 84 RBIs); 1B Mike Napoli (.259/.360/.482, 23 HR, 92 RBIs); LHP Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75 ERA)
Season series vs. O’s (2013): 8-11, 84 runs scored, 71 runs allowed

Pitching probables
March 31: Jon Lester vs. Chris Tillman, 3 p.m., MASN HD
April 2: John Lackey vs. Ubaldo Jimenez, 7 p.m., MASN HD
April 3: Felix Doubront vs. Wei-Yin Chen, 7 p.m., MASN HD

Series breakdown
The World Series champions begin their quest to repeat with a visit to one of their top divisional challengers, the Orioles.

The Red Sox will look only mildly different as a new season begins. Spring success story Grady Sizemore is in line to take over for Jacoby Ellsbury in center. A.J. Pierzynski marks a potential upgrade over Jarrod Saltalamacchia behind the plate. Top prospect Xander Bogaerts replaces Stephen Drew at shortstop. Edward Mujica, Burke Badenhop and Chris Capuano give the Koji Uehara-anchored bullpen a bit of a facelift.

The Red Sox were the class of the major leagues offensively in 2013, and shouldn’t take much of a step back. If Sizemore can regain some of his former production and the likes of David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia continue to fuel the offense, the rest of the American League East will be on notice. Plus, the Sox return the same rotation they rode to last year’s championship.

Boston will be looking to reverse its recent trend against the Orioles - Baltimore has taken each of the last two season series, winning 24 of 37 meetings between the teams during that time.

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