The Boston Red Sox went into the 2012 regular season projected third in the division behind the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees. This was seen rightfully so after their historic September collapse last season. Everyone knew they had potential but with potential question marks such as new manager Bobby Valentine taking over and the bullpen being subpar, many wondered if the Red Sox would miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year.
Fast forward to May 29, 2012. The Red Sox have a starting outfield of rookie Daniel Nava, trade acquisition Marlon Byrd and Ryan Sweeney. Recently, Sweeney was sidelined due to a head injury so they were starting regular first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Even after having all three of their projected starting outfielders out with injuries (Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Cody Ross) they still have been finding a way to win and finally made it above .500 this past Tuesday, when facing Tigers ace Justin Verlander.
With the three outfielders, closer Andrew Bailey and now second baseman Dustin Pedroia all out with injuries, will the Red Sox be able to win consistently? The answer is yes. Nava has been explosive offensively for the Red Sox. In 18 games played, Nava is currently hitting .288 with 2 home runs and 15 runs batted in. His play defensively has also been strong. David Ortiz has also been carrying the Red Sox as of late with .333 batting average and 12 home runs. If the pitching can stay consistent as well there is no doubt the Sox can continue contending.
The other big question for the Sox is that with stellar play from rookie third baseman, Will Middlebrooks, will the Sox trade Kevin Youkilis? Since being called up from the minors, Middlebrooks has hit 6 home runs and has drove in 21 runs. His play has proven that he is ready for the major leagues but with Youkilis back from injury it puts the Red Sox in a tough but good position to be in. National League teams such as the Phillies, Reds and Giants as well as American League teams like the Indians, have all been connected to wanting Youkilis and if the Red Sox can get a good pitcher for him, there is no doubt that they should do it.
Coming into June, the play of the Red Sox will need to be strong in order to make the playoffs. Adrian Gonzalez as well as pitcher Clay Buchholz needs to be more consistent then they have been this season for this to happen. With players coming back from injury, other players stepping up and maybe a potential trade or two the Red Sox have a strong chance to make the postseason.
Pierce Arrow Sports Editor