There will be a lot of eyes in spring training on right fielder Masataka Yoshida, signed by the Red Sox during the offseason, as he likely becomes Boston’s  leadoff hitter. Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

This week we finally get a look at the 2023 Red Sox as pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers, Florida. Some of the team’s most recognizable names are gone, much to the chagrin of Boston fans.

Everything about this spring training will be new. New faces, new rules and a new schedule to think about. Plus a tournament that could potentially disrupt Manager Alex Cora’s plans to bring this group together.

Here are at nine things to keep an eye out for this spring:

 Clocks: You will see them everywhere. Pitchers have just 15 seconds to deliver a pitch this season (20 if there’s a man on base) so Cora and pitching coach Dave Bush want the staff to get used to working at a quicker pace. That process will begin on Day 1.

Former Dodgers. You’ll see them everywhere, too. Cora. Returning players Kiké Hernández, Alex Verdugo and Connor Wong. Newcomers Justin Turner, Kenley Jansen and Chris Martin. There is a definitely Dodger Blue tint to the Red Sox this season, and that’s probably not a bad thing. L.A. has 931 wins over the last 10 years, 73 more than any other team in baseball. Cora is hoping a little of the Dodgertown mojo rubs off on JetBlue Park.

Stationary infielders: It’s taken me a long time to get used to checking who actually fielded ground balls on routine outs. For the past 10 years a ball hit to the shortstop hole might not have been played by the shortstop. He might be shifted into short-right field, with the third baseman handling the left side of the infield. Not anymore. There will be two fielders on each side of second base, and no one heading out to serve as a fourth outfielder. Baseball is hoping to get back to the days where athleticism, not analytics, leads to outs in the infield. And I can now confidently write “6-3” on my scorecard after a grounder to short.


Base runners: Major League Baseball wants more action on the base paths. With that in mind, bases have expanded from 15 square inches to 18, reducing the distance between bases. There will be more stealing this season. And there will be more runners going from first to third now that shortstops won’t be positioned in short right field to cut down shallow liners or fly balls. Action is good. We’ll see more of it.

Chris Sale: He alluded to himself as Humpty Dumpty at Red Sox Winter Weekend. And you can bet the team will be walking on eggshells as he makes his first start this spring. The Sox will be very careful with him, so don’t expect a heavy workload.

Masataka Yoshida: The Red Sox view the right fielder’s signing as an example of their baseball operations brain power working at its best. They analyzed the pitching he faced in Japan and analyzed how it compares to MLB pitching. They waited out COVID-related restrictions to get scouts on the ground to see him live. And they worked out his value to sign him in his first day of availability. There will be a lot of eyes on Yoshida as he settles into what is likely the leadoff spot in the Boston lineup.

 Players leaving camp: Yoshida is one of 12 Red Sox players who will take part in the fifth World Baseball Classic, with players leaving just a couple of weeks after camp starts. WBC’s are always disruptive to spring training routines, but with so many new rules to work on the players leaving to represent their countries will have less time to adjust. Remember, the WBC is not using the new MLB rules this season.

 Rafael Devers’ smile: He’s always had a big grin around the batting cage, but a 10-year, $313.5 million extension should have him flashing those pearly whites more than ever.

The bullpen: The biggest improvement to this team should be its relief pitching. At least half of the bullpen will be made up of newcomers to the organization, and each was acquired because of his ability to throw strikes. Cora has had enough of relievers who regularly fall behind in the count. Expect a more aggressive approach from relievers in 2023.

Beyond what we’ll be watching on the diamond, we will also be on the lookout for signs of recovery as southwest Florida still deals with the aftereffects of Hurricane Ian. Restaurants — especially around the Fort Myers Beach and Naples areas — are reopening, but it’s been a slow process. With baseball returning to the region, much needed tourist dollars should help speed up the repair process.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. He is a graduate of Lewiston High School.

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