FORT MYERS, Fla. — Bobby Valentine and Ben Cherington have plenty of work to do. With Opening Day now nine days away, the time to get that work done is ticking away.

It’s been a long time since we’ve been this unsure of a Red Sox roster this late in the preseason.

For the past eight years, spring training was a place where 23 players knew their spot on the team, and about 30 more battled for the last couple of spots.

Fort Myers was a place for early impressions, a place where players would show Terry Francona what they could do for the team if a player went down in May or June. Most of the players in camp knew they were ticketed for Triple-A in Pawtucket, and were jockeying for position on the second 25-man roster.

Not so this year. Under Cherington and Valentine, there’s been a “community auditions” feel to spring training.

Shortstop is the biggest job opening on the roster. It’s the most important defensive position on the field, and it’s going to Mike Aviles or Jose Iglesias. Aviles, 31, has spent all of this month playing the position, and is a guy who can hit.

He is a career .288 big-league hitter, and hit .317 in his two months with Boston last year.

Iglesias is nine years younger than Aviles, and has the skill set to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game.

Valentine has been impressed with those skills, and the manager has indicated he thinks the kid could be ready for the bigs. GM Cherington doesn’t seem so convinced — after all, Iglesias is a career .261 hitter in the minors.

This decision will come down to the wire.

Is it better to let Iglesias continue developing as a hitter in the minors, or does the pitching staff need his glove behind them now?

To be sure, there will be some interesting closed-door discussions debating just that.

The debate will also continue over who should join Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz in the starting rotation. Daniel Bard has been given the chance to start, and has had mixed reviews at best.

On Sunday he gave up five runs on six hits in six innings, an outing that was reviewed as a positive.

Despite getting hit, Bard worked on his repertoire, continuing to develop a third and fourth pitch. He’ll need them all to go six or more innings against big-league hitters.

Behind Bard, Alfredo Aceves and Felix Doubront are battling for the final starting spot. Doubront has been impressive this spring and seems to be on the verge of taking the spot.

Aceves was getting rave reviews, but suffered a setback Saturday when he gave up nine runs in three innings against the Phillies.

Aceves has said all the right things this spring, stressing he will pitch wherever he is asked to pitch.

He was one of the few saying all the right things in the final days of the 2011 collapse, uttering his famous “If I wake up tomorrow, I’m good” comment when asked if he could pitch a fourth straight day.

He did.

Aceves may be a victim of his own success and versatility. He is so good in the bullpen, and can pitch in so many relief roles, the team may need him there, even if he is a strong option as a starter.

Back in the field, there will eventually be a battle for the starting right field position between Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney.

Ross, a right-handed hitter with power, would be the favorite to crack the lefty-heavy Sox lineup.

For now, both will start until Carl Crawford is ready to return.

Behind the plate, Ryan Lavarnway is looking polished beyond his years and could make a case to bump Kelly Shoppach as the backup to Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Lavarnway has been one of the team’s best hitters this spring, and may be with the big club before you know it.

And then there’s the strange case of Pedro Ciriaco, the 26-year-old unknown who is only hitting .441 with a 1.134 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage.) He could steal the final spot on the roster.

In the past, that final spot would be about the only job up for grabs in the final days of March.

This is a very different preseason. And the real season is coming on fast.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.