Red Sox not worried about repeat

"I haven't had any days where I need a down day," Sizemore said. "They're still trying to build some in, so I don't do too much, too soon. But as far as hitting a threshold, I haven't gotten there."

Youth movement? Sizemore is one of 15 players who will be 30 or older by Mother's Day, including six who will be 35 or older. The most chronologically challenged list includes face of the franchise David Ortiz; both catchers, A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross; closer Uehara; rotation mainstay John Lackey; and new lefty swingman Chris Capuano. If this team goes deep into October, it will be not because the kids are all right, but because the old reliables are good for another go-round.

With advancing age, of course, comes the increasing likelihood of breakdowns, and the Sox experienced one on the last day of camp when 33-year-old Shane Victorino strained his right hamstring and flew to Boston Sunday for an MRI. He appears doubtful for Monday's opener.

"I think Shane's situation is going to be one of the challenges and situations thrown our way," manager John Farrell said Sunday. "We don't know what's going to come up against us or the challenges we will face. But as long as we remain resilient as we did a year ago, and face those challenges as a team, I feel like we'll be in a very good place or position as we go through this journey in 2014."

While the story in the retelling often has it that everything broke right for the Sox in 2013, that was hardly the case. Ortiz couldn't walk in spring. Lackey walked off the mound clutching his elbow in April. Closers Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan and setup man Andrew Miller all suffered season-ending injuries. Ross had multiple concussions. Clay Buchholz was shut down for three months with a sore shoulder. The Sox surmounted all of it.

And then there was Dustin Pedroia, the All-Star second baseman who slid headfirst into first base in the season opener in Yankee Stadium and tore a ligament in his thumb. He could have opted for surgery and no one would have questioned it. Instead, when doctors told him he could play if he could handle the pain, Pedroia played. And missed two games all season.

"You're out there for your teammates," he said. "With me out there even at 90 percent, if that helps us win a game you're out there. Everyone is out there."

After offseason surgery, Pedroia is healthy again. And it shows.

"It feels good," he said. "You can tell the way the ball is coming off my bat. I don't have to try to generate power. See the ball and hit it. It's good."

Even without Ellsbury, the Red Sox have plenty of run producers: Pedroia and Ortiz, for starters, Mike Napoli, whose great start last season did so much to compensate for Ortiz's absence, on-base man Daniel Nava, Victorino when healthy. Sizemore is an unknown, and to some degree so are Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks.

"Xander and Will, what they could give us in the bottom half of our lineup, particularly with the right-handed power they both have, not only would they balance out our lineup, they lengthen it," Farrell said. "It's exciting to see young players like that at least begin the season in a really good place."

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