Vote: Which Returning Red Sox Player Faces Most Pressure to Perform Well in 2012?


February 20, 2012

Vote: Which Returning Red Sox Player Faces Most Pressure to Perform Well in 2012?The Red Sox will be under more pressure than usual when the season begins on April 5.

The Sox will likely get reminders of their September collapse all spring and into the season, but a new season means a fresh start for the team and a few of its key players.

Josh Beckett and Jon Lester have something to prove just as much for their actions off the field than on it. The reputations of both took a beating last season as they combined to go just 2-5 with a combined ERA north of 5.40 in September. Both were peppered with questions as they arrived at spring training about the disappointing finish to 2011 and their off-field activities.

Carl Crawford struggled mightily in his first season of a seven-year, $142 million contract. He played in just 130 games, the second-fewest of his career as a full-time major leaguer. When he was on the field, Crawford hit just .255 with an on-base percentage of only .289 — both career lows. Crawford arrived at spring training on Monday, and admitted to being "out of whack" last season. He'll be doing all he can to make a better impression in his second season in Boston, but a wrist injury may complicate things even further, at least to begin the year.

Kevin Youkilis is also looking to get healthy after a 2010 season in which he played just 102 games and an '11 campaign in which he appeared in only 120 games. Youkilis also spoke with reporters on Monday where he said that he's healthy and hopeful that 2012 will be a season full of good health. If he is healthy, Youkilis should have a good chance of bouncing back after a season in which he registered an uncharacteristically high 100 strikeouts in just 431 at-bats with his average (.258) dipping (well) below .300 for the first time since the 2007 season.

Which returning Red Sox player faces the most pressure to perform well in 2012?

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