With 10 days to go, what do we know?
Page 3 of 3 -- Spring grade: A
DH/1B David Ortiz: Despite a nagging sore shoulder, Big Papi just keeps getting better with age. He has been all-world this spring, leading the team with a .848 slugging percentage, 28 total bases, five home runs, and 12 RBI in 33 plate appearances. Hes even looked pretty good at first base in limited field action, and is having a ball with Manny, Renteria, and the rest of the guys. When the Sox have needed a big hit, Big Papi has been the guy to deliver on an offensive unit that has been underperforming all spring.
Spring grade: A+
The major reserves
Outfield, Jay Payton: While Payton has cooled down of late after his red-hot start to spring, he continues to lead the team with a .438 batting average in 32 plate appearances. Hes scored seven runs, trailing only David Ortiz, while his 14 hits also lead the Sox. If any of the outfielders goes down with injury, or needs a day off for any Hollywood appearances, Payton will make Fenway fans forget about Gabe Kapler and Dave Roberts with his both his bat and his hustle. Hes a better center fielder than right fielder, and has had a little trouble hanging onto balls that hes been able to track down.
Spring grade: A
3B/1B, Kevin Youkilis: Youk leads the team with 37 at-bats on the spring. While he has played most of his time at third, hes seen some action at first base as well. Hes made a couple of errors but has been primarily been steady at third base. Youk has six RBIs with 10 hits and a .270 average this spring.
Spring grade: B+
2B, Ramon Vazquez: Like Payton, Vazquez has been a pleasant surprise this spring. Two of his eight hits have been home runs, resulting in a .467 slugging percentage (OK, one of the long balls may have been wind-blown against the Cards). Hes appeared in 14 games and has committed one error, has one stolen base, and has made a handful of nice plays around the bag. More than just a defensive replacement for Mark Bellhorn, look for Vazquez to get an opportunity to start every now and then if Bellhorn struggles either at the plate or in the field.
Spring grade: B+
Outfield, George Lombard: The man with the most interesting background on the team keeps fighting to make the major league roster. Lombards biggest asset has been his speed, leading the team with three stolen bases. Hes also been able to stay out of double plays by using his running back wheels to hustle up the first base line on a couple of occasions. Hes appeared in a team-high 17 games and has a triple among his seven hits and .269 average. Even with Adam Hyzdu off to San Diego, it remains to be seen whether Lombard will survive as the teams fifth outfielder this season, but his speed is needed after the loss of Dave Roberts.
Spring grade: B-
1B, Dave McCarty: With Roberto Petagine down with injury, McCarty may be the last man standing for the final roster spot, as he has played some outfield this spring in addition to filling in at first base. McCarty has just four singles in 25 at-bats for a .160 average. He also has six walks and seven strikeouts and, hey, he can pitch if needed.
Spring grade: C-
SS, Hanley Ramirez: On a younger team, Hanley Ramirez may be starting at shortstop in the major leagues right now. He had a terrific spring, slugging .500 with a .389 average in just 18 at-bats. He always seemed to be in the center of the rallies that the young guys started late in a couple of games. And he made all the routine plays at short with ease and a steady glove while displaying some serious deep-in-the-hole range, most memorable was his catch-step-and-throw triple play in a win over the Phillies on the first weekend of Grapefruit League action. In addition to fitting in nicely with the veterans on the team, the athletic Ramirez looked to be a mentor to the other young guys in the dugout in his time here, signs that his maturity issues are behind him and he has the makings for being a leader on this team for years to come -- when his time comes.
Spring grade: A
Well take a look at the pitching staff tomorrow.