6 Exciting Takeaways for Red Sox Fans After Spring Training Opener

The Boston Red Sox had their first Spring Training game and there were plenty of positives to take away ahead of the new season.

Mar 27, 2022; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72)
Mar 27, 2022; Fort Myers, Florida, USA; Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Garrett Whitlock (72) / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
1 of 6

After a Friday 7-2 exhibition win over the Northeastern University Huskies, the Boston Red Sox got their first taste of MLB competition on Saturday against the Baltimore Orioles, dropping their Grapefruit League opener, 4-3, on a two-run walk-off home run. The Red Sox lineup card looked as follows:

Boston's lineup lacked some marquee names, with Garrett Whitlock, Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, and Bobby Dalbec as the most noteworthy names in the starting lineup. In total, Boston utilized six pitchers and 18 position players on Saturday as the coaching staff and front office continue to assess their talent in camp and Craig Breslow constructs the roster.

The Red Sox will split the squad on Sunday with a home game back at JetBlue Park against the Minnesota Twins and an away game at the Atlanta Braves. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. for both contests.

Sunday should give Red Sox fans a better glimpse at some of the more well-known members of the roster. Fans will get their first look at offseason signing Lucas Giolito, who is expected to start on the mound against the Twins.

Opening Day is a little over a month away, slated for March 28 in Seattle, but we have already gotten our first taste of Red Sox baseball after a highly scrutinized offseason. Here are six takeaways from the Red Sox' spring training opener:

1. Garrett Whitlock Gets the First Chance to Start

Whitlock has seesawed back-and-forth between starting and relieving roles during his tenure in Boston, and once again this debate has carried into 2024 Spring Training. Historically, Whitlock has been more effective out of the bullpen, but the Red Sox have yet to definitively clarify his role and they could certainly be using Spring Training as a sample size to make that decision.

Brayan Bello, Lucas Giolito, and Nick Pivetta are the locks in Boston's rotation, per Alex Cora, with Kutter Crawford having a "leg up" on the rest. That leaves Tanner Houck and Whitlock vying for the last spot in the rotation. Houck is in the same camp as Whitlock, as he has also flipped back and forth between starting and relieving roles. Both will assuredly make the roster, it is simply up to what capacity they will be in.

On Whitlock's first pitch of the game, Cedric Mullins sent a long fly ball to the right field warning track for a loud first out, just missing a home run. The next batter, Adley Rutschman, didn't miss a home run on his swing, just clearing the glove of a jumping Rafaela from a round-tripper to dead center. After falling behind 3-0 to the Orioles' backstop, Whitlock tried to attack the zone on his 3-1 pitch but Rutschman was able to turn it around for his first homer of the spring.

Whitlock collected his first strikeout of the spring, getting Jackson Holliday, the top-ranked prospect in baseball, to strike out swinging. He finished Saturday's outing with two innings pitched, two strikeouts, and one hit and one run allowed on Rutschman's solo shot.