Spring training games don’t usually fall into the “must-watch” category, but the Boston Red Sox still have plenty of interesting matchups on their schedule.
Boston’s first game of the spring slate kicks off Thursday at 1:05 p.m. ET with an exhibition game against Northeastern. The Red Sox don’t plan to use any of their six competing starting pitchers in the first four games, but after that, things get a little more intriguing.
So, without further ado, here are six Red Sox spring training games you should keep on your radar.
Red Sox vs. Team USA, Thursday, March 9, at 1:05 p.m. ET
The World Baseball Classic begins March 6, but Team USA doesn’t play until March 10. So before they head to Miami to take on Colombia, they’re making a pit stop in Fort Myers, Fla., to face the Red Sox. Major League Baseball teams don’t usually trot out all their best players in the early spring training games, but this particular matchup might call for it. Team USA features plenty of Red Sox foes like pitchers Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman and center fielder Adam Jones, as well as some of the best players in baseball, including reliever Andrew Miller, third baseman Nolan Arenado, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and right fielder Giancarlo Stanton.
Red Sox vs. Houston Astros, Friday, March 17, at 1:05 p.m.
The Astros finished second in the American League West in 2015, made the playoffs and had both the AL Cy Young Award winner (Dallas Keuchel) and Rookie of the Year (Carlos Correa) on their roster. But in 2016, finishing 84-78 wasn’t nearly good enough in an improved AL West, and the ‘Stros missed the playoffs entirely. The team should be improved in 2017, however, after adding outfielders Nori Aoki, Carlos Beltran and Josh Reddick and catcher Brian McCann. Houston also will have a fully-healthy Keuchel and Lance McCullers in their rotation. The Astros are a popular dark horse pick for the World Series, and it should be interesting to get an early look at them through the Red Sox.
Red Sox at New York Yankees, Tuesday, March 21, at 6:35 p.m.
The appeal of this game is threefold: It’s against Boston’s biggest rival, it’s later in the spring training schedule and it’s one of just four night games the Red Sox play before the start of the regular season. So, not only is there a better chance you’ll get to see some of your favorite players on the field, but you can actually watch it, thanks to the convenient time and the fact that it will air on NESN.
Red Sox at Pittsburgh Pirates, Tuesday, March 28, at 6:05 p.m.
The final of the Red Sox’s four spring training games against the Pirates is another night game, making the interest in this game similar to that of the Yankees game the week prior. But the AL East also happens to play the National League Central this year, and the Red Sox open the season at Fenway Park against, you guessed it, the Pirates. This game should be an early preview of Boston’s first series of the year.
Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, March 29, at 1:05 p.m.
This game is for all the marbles, as the winner of the six-game spring training series between the Red Sox and the Twins takes home the most prestigious trophy of them all: the Chairman’s Cup. OK, so the Chairman’s Cup is a kind of made-up award that Minnesota and Boston play for because their spring training facilities are practically next to each other, but the series still can be fun. It’s not very often you get to see teams playing for anything in spring training, so we’ll take whatever we can get.
Red Sox at Washington Nationals, Saturday, April 1, at 2 p.m.
Boston’s final spring training game of 2017 is a fun one, as the team will square off against the Nationals at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. Tickets for the game only are available for members of the Navy and Naval Academy midshipmen, and they’ll likely be in for a good game. Washington and Boston both are expected to be heavy contenders in 2017, so this matchup could be a preview of things to come.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images