If the Boston Red Sox are not to begin the 2011 season against their arch-rivals the New York Yankees, what better way to test its collective strength right out of the gate than by facing the defending American League champions, the Texas Rangers? Clearly, the Rangers won't be the same without former ace Cliff Lee, who surprisingly opted to go back to the Philadelphia Phillies in the offseason during the free agency period. But they will send out lefty C.J. Wilson to face fellow lefty Jon Lester, the cancer-surviving, 2007 World Series Game 4-winning pitcher to start game one of the 2011 season on Friday, April 1.
It should be a competitive game and series, and be the first test of how well the Red Sox's lefty-heavy lineup will be. For the opener however, left handed veteran right fielder J.D. Drew will sit in favor of right handed outfielder Mike Cameron, who is as fit and healthy now than he's been since he joined the Sox last year. And young Jarrod Saltalamacchia—a former Texas Rangers prospect and catcher until traded to Boston in 2010—will start behind the plate, with Sox instructor Gary Tuck and the captain Jason Varitek teaching him (in the backup role once again) the do's and dont's of the game before and after games.
The two catchers will alternate starting catching duties this year, and for now, it looks like Salta can hit major league pitching pretty well, if his spring training results are any indication. He got three hits against Houston in the final Red Sox spring training game on Wednesday, and is known as a patient hitter who can put up a good OBP. It remains to be seen, however, if he can call games and handle pitching staffs in the regular season, as he only appeared in 10 games last year before shutting it down with a thumb injury (which he suffered before he was traded here from these Texas Rangers in 2010 and which he is now surgically healed from).
The two new big-time pickups in the offseason, Carl Crawford and (former Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres slugger) Adrian Gonzalez, are what is truly creating the most buzz regarding the Red Sox since the 2004 season when GM Theo Epstein signed closer Keith Foulke and Curt Schilling. Both have looked good in the preseason, though Gonzalez had a short spring due to recovery from shoulder surgery in the offseason.