Diving into the depths: Boston Red Sox

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Boston Red Sox
Rotation
1. Jon Lester
2. Josh Beckett
3. John Lackey
4. Daisuke Matsuzaka
5. Clay Buchholz
6. Tim Wakefield
7. Michael Bowden
8. Junichi Tazawa
9. Boof Bonser
10. Gaby Hernandez
11. Fabio Castro
12. Kris Johnson
Wakefield won’t be happy if pushed to a bullpen role to start the season, but it’s hard to imagine the Red Sox creating room for him if everyone else is healthy. Injuries will likely creep up and sort these things out. Odds are that the team will also have need for Bowden in the rotation at some point.
Bullpen
1. Jonathan Papelbon
2. Hideki Okajima
3. Daniel Bard
4. Ramon Ramirez
5. Manny Delcarmen
6. Boof Bonser
7. Tim Wakefield
8. Joe Nelson
9. Brian Shouse
10. Scott Atchison
11. Dustin Richardson
12. Ramon A. Ramirez
13. Junichi Tazawa
14. Fernando Cabrera
15. Fabio Castro
16. Michael Bowden
17. Jorge Sosa
18. Edwin Moreno
The bullpen depth is flat-out ridiculous. Nelson, Atchison and the other Ramon Ramirez are average middle relievers, Shouse and Richardson are legitimate lefty specialists and both Cabrera and Castro have some upside if they can find opportunities. Unfortunately, no one from the group figures to make the team unless someone starts off on the disabled list.


Catcher
1. Victor Martinez
2. Jason Varitek
3. Dusty Brown
4. Mark Wagner
First base
1. Kevin Youkilis
2. Mike Lowell
3. Victor Martinez
4. Aaron Bates
Second base
1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Bill Hall
3. Jed Lowrie
4. Tug Hulett
Third base
1. Adrian Beltre
2. Mike Lowell
3. Bill Hall
4. Kevin Youkilis
Shortstop
1. Marco Scutaro
2. Jed Lowrie
3. Bill Hall
4. Tug Hulett
5. Gil Velazquez
Lowell is still around, but the Red Sox would almost surely prefer to change that prior to Opening Day. There won’t be nearly enough at-bats available to keep him content, even if the team did start to sit David Ortiz more frequently against left-handers.
Left field
1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Center field
1. Mike Cameron
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Ryan Kalish
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Right field
1. J.D. Drew
2. Jeremy Hermida
3. Josh Reddick
4. Bill Hall
5. Darnell McDonald
Designated hitter
1. David Ortiz
2. Victor Martinez
3. J.D. Drew
4. Mike Lowell
Hermida, Varitek and Hall would appear to be guaranteed spots on the bench. The fourth would have to go to Lowell if he’s still around and healthy. Otherwise, Hulett would seem to be the logical choice. Lowrie might yet be in the team’s long-term plans, but he needs at-bats after missing time due to wrist problems and he’ll probably get those in Triple-A.

Clayton Kershaw might return to the Dodgers’ rotation next week

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Dodgers southpaw Clayton Kershaw is nearing his return to the mound, according to club manager Dave Roberts. Both Kershaw (left biceps tendinitis) and fellow lefty Rich Hill (left middle finger blister) are scheduled to toss simulated games on Saturday; depending on the outcome, Roberts says Kershaw could forgo a minor league assignment and slot back into the rotation by Thursday.

Kershaw, 30, was diagnosed with biceps tendinitis as the team closed out their Mexico Series at the start of the month. He has not made a start in several weeks, but was finally able to resume throwing on Sunday and managed to get through two successful bullpen sessions. Though Dodgers’ ace hasn’t been completely injury-free over his 11-year career in the majors, this is the first significant issue he’s had with his pitching arm so far. The team is expected to take every precaution with the lefty, and will likely limit him to just four innings during Saturday’s simulated game.

Prior to his injury, Kershaw was working on another dominant run with the club, sporting a 2.86 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 9.8 SO/9 through his first 44 innings of the season. While Kershaw, Hill and left-handed starter Hyun-Jin Ryu served their respective terms on the disabled list this month, the Dodgers utilized a combination of relievers Ross Stripling and Brock Stewart, both of whom impressed during their limited time in the rotation.