The T-shirt says it all.
Throughout spring training, several Boston Red Sox players donned shirts that said, “Turn the (expletive) page.” The message is clear, coarse and important. It’s also a perfect snapshot of the Red Sox’s mindset entering the 2014 season.
“We don’t have to defend our title,” Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes recently said, according to ESPN.com. “Our title is 2013. That stuff is already in the archives. We’re playing 2014 now. It’s not like the Tour de France, where we’re going to start with a 10-minute lead because we were in first last year.”
The Red Sox’s 2013 World Series run was magical. No one can take that away. But the Red Sox seem to understand that to enjoy similar success in 2014 they’ll need to forget all about last season and focus on the new tasks at hand.
“Just because we won last year doesn’t mean we’re going to show up and go, ‘Oh, let’s just play this one out,’ ” left-hander Jon Lester said. “Every year you walk through those doors, your goal is to win a World Series. I don’t know about chances, but I like our chances against any team.”
The Red Sox again will face tough competition in the American League East, where the Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays all are entering the season with something to prove. There’s an understanding within the Red Sox’s clubhouse that failing to heed the message of the T-shirt could be disastrous, as the margin for error is so thin.
“Whoever finishes last in this division is really going to be ticked off because they’re going to have a great team. Whether it’s us, whatever,” Gomes said. “Everyone got better. Everyone added, through the whole division. If they didn’t add players, they added health.”
The Red Sox have most of the same pieces in place this year, making another trip to the postseason — and perhaps another World Series run — a legitimate possibility. The Sox aren’t taking anything for granted, though, and it’s a reflection of the club’s collective attitude.
“(It’s) the type of people we have in uniform. They’re driven by personal pride,” manager John Farrell said. “We feel like we’ve got the right people to continue to build, and not just be satisfied with one year.”
The Red Sox are in a much different place this Opening Day. The 69-93 Bobby Valentine era is a distant memory, another World Series banner has been added outside of Fenway Park and expectations are sky high. It isn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows for the Red Sox, though, and the team’s resilience inevitably will be tested at some point this season.
“There are going to be things that come our way this year that we don’t know what they’re going to be — whatever those challenges are,” Farrell said. “We (need to) meet them and respond to them as we did a year ago, and that is as a team and not splintering.”
The page has been turned. It’s time to start the next one.