MLB Spring Training: 5 Things to Expect From Champs Red Sox

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After a 2013 World Series win, the Boston Red Sox will attempt to become the first team to repeat as champs since the 2000 New York Yankees. Boston will take the next step in its quest to repeat this week with its first 57-player full squad workout at Fenway South in Fort Myers, Florida. Now that the beards have been trimmed and the duck boats have returned to giving tours, it’s time for the Red Sox to begin a 2014 season loaded with expectations.

Before all the action gets underway in Fort Meyers, here’s a breakdown of what to expect from the reigning champs.

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1. New faces

The Red Sox went in a different direction at catcher for 2014, signing 37-year-old A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year deal. Pierzynski, who played for the Rangers last season, will provide some pop in the lower half of the order for the Red Sox. He’s hit 10 or more home runs 10 times during his career — but whether he’ll be a reliable defensive catcher has yet to be seen. He’s also known as a fiery guy who can get under the skin of both opponents and teammates. In 2012, Pierzynski was named the MLB’s “most hated player” by a Men’s Journal survey of 100 MLB peers. The Red Sox locker room personalities have been a much-talked about factor during their championship runs, so it will be interesting to see how Pierzynski blends in.

Former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore also joins the team after enduring five surgeries since 2010. Sizemore, a three-time All Star and two-time Gold Glove award winner, hit 33 home runs and stole 38 bases in 2008 — the last time he played a full season while healthy. If Sizemore can return to form, the signing will have been a steal for Boston.

In addition, former St. Louis relief pitcher Edward Mujica swapped World Series locker rooms and will suit up for the Red Sox as a late-inning reliever. Mujica earned 37 saves and posted a 2.78 earned run average in 2013 despite struggling late in the season due to fatigue.

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