The 25-man roster is complete. After inheriting the reins from Theo Epstein, new Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington has emerged from spring training and helped craft the roster –– along with manager Bobby Valentine –– to his liking.
On the eve of Opening Day, where the Red Sox will square off against the Tigers, Cherington spoke with NESN.com to discuss a few of the questions on fans’ minds heading into the 2012 season.
NESN.com: Now that spring is over, how’s the transition to GM been for you, and what has been the biggest change compared to your role as assistant GM?
Ben Cherington: Much of the job is the same. I still look at a lot of the same information, and most of the people I interact with every day are the same, including our ownership group and in baseball [operations]. The biggest change this spring was getting acclimated to our terrific new spring training complex and working closely with Bobby Valentine and our new coaches.
NESN.com: From your perspective, how have players responded to Bobby Valentine’s managing style and energy thus far?
BC: I think our players have responded well and would have been highly motivated going into this spring training no matter who the manager was. Bobby has brought some new ideas and a new approach to spring training, and we’ve already seen him make a positive impact on some players, and now we get to see how the team plays together starting tomorrow in Detroit.
NESN.com: How’s the level of communication been between you and Bobby in your first spring together?
BC: We talked several times per day. Spring training is a busy time for the manager and staff, so I try to pick my spots and allow them some space to work. We had a lot of conversations about all sorts of topics, and I think we both learned from each other.
NESN.com: How do you go about determining who gets the final roster spot out of spring training?
BC: There are certain parts of the roster that I think the manager and staff should have more of say on, particularly support roles. Often the last decisions are about the bench and the end of the bullpen, and in those cases I definitely want Bobby and the staff to have a lot of input. We balance the needs of the team with trying to maintain as much depth as possible for a long season. Often too much is made of the opening day roster. It will inevitably change quickly and evolve quite a bit over the course of the season.
NESN.com: What are the expectations for promising prospects like Jose Iglesias, Ryan Lavarnway and Will Middlebrooks this season?
BC: Iglesias, Lavarnway, Middlebrooks and Lars Anderson were some of the more impressive homegrown players in camp this year. We expect all of them will be very good major league players. I don’t believe in prospects in AAA. Once a player is in AAA, he may still be developing skills, but he’s now part of our major league depth and no longer just a prospect. To start the season, they will all play in Pawtucket and are a phone call away if we have an injury. All have made excellent strides in the last year.