John Farrell leaning towards batting Hanley Ramirez fourth

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In a radio interview with WEEI on Friday, Red Sox manager John Farrell said he is leaning towards batting Hanley Ramriez fourth in the lineup, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne. The middle of the order is likely to see David Ortiz third, Ramirez fourth, Pablo Sandoval fifth, and Mike Napoli sixth.

With the off-season additions of Ramirez and Sandoval, plus Rusney Castillo and Christian Vazquez playing everyday, the Red Sox lineup will look quite different than it did in 2014. The Red Sox averaged 3.91 runs per game this past season, below the American League average of 4.18, so they’ll be looking to make some big strides in that area.

Report: 11 umpires have opted out of the 2020 season

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Jon Heyman reports that 11 MLB umpires have opted out of the 2020 season or have otherwise declined to participate. He says “some are said to have family members who are ill.” The umpires’ identities are not yet known.

Umpires, like players, have the right to opt-out with full pay if they are in a high risk group due to preexisting health conditions. Umpires can, obviously, be older as well, so age factors into it for some as well. Also like players, umpires who are themselves not high risk can opt-out if they have concern for the health of family members, though they will forego paychecks.

Recently, one umpire who is high risk — Joe West — made headlines for not only choosing not to opt-out but for also giving voice to COVID-19 denialism, questioning official statistics about infections and deaths.

The latest on West: