Trevor Story is making his long-awaited Grapefruit League debut, as we get our first look at how the Red Sox will likely open the season next week.
After a wild week or so, Story will finally debut, playing second base and hitting sixth on Tuesday against the Atlanta Braves as the Red Sox continue their spring training slate. First pitch from Fort Myers is set for 1 p.m. ET, and the game can be seen on NESN.
Here’s a look at the Red Sox lineup against Atlanta:
Kike Hernandez, CF
Rafael Devers, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
J.D. Martinez, DH
Alex Verdugo, LF
Trevor Story, 2B
Bobby Dalbec, 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
Christian Vazquez, C
Tanner Houck, RHP
As we hypothesized last week, manager Alex Cora’s decision as it pertains to Story, Verdugo and the middle of the Boston batting order might just depend on the opponent’s starting pitcher. Right-hander Ian Anderson gets the start Tuesday, so it makes sense Verdugo will hit in front of Story. Verdugo was brutal against left-handers last season, so it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him and Story flip when a lefty goes, especially given Story’s success versus southpaws.
There’s another notable takeaway regarding Devers. He’s penciled into the second spot as he has been for much of the spring. In recent years, the analytical movement has helped open the eyes of teams to the value of using your best hitter No. 2 in the order. It has gotten to the point where it’s almost common sense — it maximizes the number of times your best hitter gets to the plate, and there’s also the chance he’s batting with a runner on hitting behind the leadoff hitter.
That spot should be Devers’ until he proves otherwise. The good news for Cora is that even if Devers goes into a gnarly slump or gets hurt, there’s no shortage of options to replace him, at least on a short-term basis.
Tuesday also is a sneaky big day for Tanner Houck, who gets the start on the mound. The right-hander has walked eight batters and allowed four earned runs in just five innings of work over two starts this spring.