Red Sox are ready to play with ‘grittiness’

Red Sox

Story is hoping that the city of Boston will embrace his team’s style of play.

Trevor Story walks during the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Estadio Quisqueya on March 09, 2024 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

After two consecutive 78-win seasons and a quiet winter that yielded slight additions, expectations for the Red Sox’ 2024 season remain bleak.

Despite the countless projections that have Boston finishing in the basement of the AL East (again), however, the team is embracing the chip on their collective shoulders and using it as motivation.

As they prepare for their season opener in Seattle Thursday night, the Red Sox know they have something to prove to fans back home.

“You’re going to see a grittiness and a hunger that really embraces the town,” Trevor Story told The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey at the end of spring training. “And that starts right here. Like I said, we’ve underperformed, there’s no doubt about that the last couple of years and no one’s happy about that. And that’s what’s driven me in the offseason, every workout, every hitting session, every throwing session.”

Story, who missed a large portion of games during his first two years in Boston, knows that his team’s problems aren’t simply attributed to mechanics though. Their hot-and-cold starts indicate issues with focus more than player potential. 

“The last couple of years we’ve been a good team for parts of the year, we just haven’t put together a full season. I think that’s where we need to get better,” he said.

Adjusting an entire team culture is challenging, however it’s a far more achievable goal than adding talent to the roster at this point. And following a lackluster offseason that was anything but full-throttle, the Red Sox’ best strategy is to develop the players they have into true competitors. 

How do they do that? By reminding themselves – and each other – what it’s like to finish last in the AL East for two seasons straight. 

“These guys, most of them, they have no clue what happened here in the last two years. It’s a new group,” Manager Alex Cora said, per McCaffrey. “And the guys that were here, they took it very personal. I told them, ‘You have to talk about it.’”

The Opening Day roster – which includes rookies Ceddanne Rafaela, Wilyer Abreu, and Justin Slaten – is led by Rafael Devers, who has seen the team through better days during his six years in Boston. 

The longest tenured position players after Devers are Bobby Dalbec, Jarren Duran, and Connor Wong.

“To me, it feels like, all right, let’s prove who we are quick,” Duran said ahead of Opening Day. “Let’s be ready to go. No using spring training to ramp up and get ready. We know what we can do. We know who we have in this clubhouse. We can show who we are right away. Kind of like a punch-people-in-the-mouth-early thing.”

The Red Sox take on the Mariners at T-Mobile Park Thursday night. First pitch is set for 10:10 p.m. EST. 

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