The Red Sox think that the move of 1B Kevin Youkilis to the No. 2 spot in the batting order will create some much-needed balance in front of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez. Youkilis has a terrific eye and the ability to move runners. Expect plenty of hit-and-runs with Youkilis and speedy leadoff man Julio Lugo. . . .
Don't be surprised if 3B Mike Lowell is even more productive than in his rebound season of a year ago. Lowell feels a lot more confident this year simply because he has become acclimated to life in the American League and knows what to expect from opposing pitchers. . . .
If CF Coco Crisp bounces back like the team expects him to, he could become one of the most productive No. 8 hitters in baseball. Crisp has pop in his bat that Red Sox fans never saw, thanks to his ongoing hand woes.
CATCHERS: Jason Varitek, Doug Mirabelli
ANALYSIS:Varitek is a leader behind the plate, backed by his thorough preparation and rugged style of play. Injuries limited his effectiveness at the plate last year, but a bounce-back should be in order. Mirabelli is a solid defender but not much of a hitting threat.