Boston Red Sox Manager Alex Cora walks through the dugout during a spring training game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday in Fort Myers, Fla. John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Boston Red Sox will play their final spring training game a week from Tuesday. After that, they will pack their bags and head north for Opening Day against the Orioles at Fenway Park on April 1.

The final days before a pro team’s season are usually fraught with tension as final roster spots are determined. That’s not the case in Ft. Myers, where the Red Sox roster is pretty well settled. The key for Alex Cora’s team is to get out of Florida healthy. So the manager will hold his breath for the better part of the next week.

Cora gave us a glimpse of what might be the Opening Day lineup last week. It didn’t include Franchy Cordero, the lone major leaguer who came in the six-player deal that sent Andrew Benintendi to Kansas City. Cordero made his spring training debut Saturday and is unlikely to be ready for the start of the season, so last Wednesday’s lineup looked like this:

• Kiké Hernández 2B
• Alex Verdugo CF
• J.D. Martinez DH
• Xander Bogaerts SS
• Rafael Devers 3B
• Hunter Renfroe RF
• Marwin Gonzalez LF
• Christian Vázquez C
• Bobby Dalbec 1B

“It’s a good lineup,” Cora said. “It’s a deep lineup. When you have Christian Vazquez hitting eighth, that means we have a deep lineup. Somebody had to hit eighth. Somebody had to hit ninth. We feel comfortable where we’re at. The lefty-righty stuff, we’ll see how it plays out. But there’s good at-bats throughout. There’s power. There’s athletes.”

Backing up that group will be catcher Kevin Plawecki and second baseman Christian Arroyo. With Cordero and infielder Danny Santana on the shelf to start the season, the final spot will almost certainly go to Michael Chavis, who has had an outstanding spring.

We know the starting rotation now that Tanner Houck was sent to Triple-A. Cora told me at the start of camp that he wanted Houck starting games in Boston or Worcester. The manager held true to his word, opting not to stick the first-round pick in his major league bullpen.

There is a spot or two up for grabs in that bullpen, with Ryan Brasier unlikely to be ready for Opening Day after a hand injury slowed his start. The Red Sox will no doubt rack up some toll charges shuttling pitchers back on forth from Worcester for those spots.

So what’s left to accomplish over the next week?

“The most important thing is play clean baseball and stay healthy,” Cora said last week, “and, obviously, keep getting that email every two days with all the negatives. We have that. That’s part of what we have to take care of.  We’ve done an amazing job so far. We can’t get sloppy or relax with the protocols and everything virus related.”

Ah, yes. The protocols. We almost made it through a sports column without mentioning the pandemic, because the Red Sox have almost made it through an entire spring training without a major COVID-19 related setback. That will get more challenging as the team begins to fly across the country and play games in various cities.

Cora didn’t have to deal with any of that last season as he sat on the sideline while serving his one-year suspension from baseball. Ron Roenicke began every media briefing with a COVID update. Cora is learning that negative tests are the most important stat he will deal with in these next few weeks.

He’s got time to focus on all of that because his roster is essentially set. The Red Sox, like every other team in the history of baseball, is hoping to stay healthy over the final days of spring training. And that begins with staying virus-free.

Lewiston native Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. 

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