BOSTON – One question entering the season was how the young players would hold up, from rookies Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. to third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who is coming back from an off year in 2013.

So far so good. Even though Bogaerts went 0 for 4 on Friday, he made solid contact and is still batting .385 with a .500 on-base percentage. His defense has been fine despite an error Friday.

“Xander has gotten off to a great start,” Manager John Farrell said.

“He looks very confident and relaxed on the field.”

Bradley has two hits in five at-bats in two games. Middlebrooks homered Friday, his second extra-base hit.

“When you think about Jackie or Xander or Will, to some extent they’re young. They’re talented. Their work ethic is certainly there,” Farrell said. “They’re going to play a major role for us. We know there’s going to be some ebb and flow to their game.”

Middlebrooks is looking confident. He looked lost in several at-bats last year.

“I’m in a good place now,” he said.

CLAY BUCHHOLZ gets his first start Saturday night against the Brewers.

Buchholz is considered a talented, fragile pitcher. He struggled to stay healthy last season and pitched admirably at less than 100 percent in the playoffs.

The Red Sox brought Buchholz along slowly in spring training, trying to build him up for the long haul.

“He pitched a lot more comfortable,” Farrell said.

“With each start, the action to his stuff picked up and the power continued to climb. He came out of spring training checking off every box we had for him, and he’s ready to go.”

HENRY OWENS began spring training in major league camp as the Red Sox wanted to give the left-handed prospect some useful experience.

But just because Owens is in the minors with the Portland Sea Dogs doesn’t mean he’s forgotten.

Of course Owens helped people remember his name after he threw a no-hitter Thursday night in a game shortened to six innings.

Farrell was asked if he paid attention.

“You mean the six-inning no-hitter,” Farrell said with a smile.

“Yeah, we pay attention.”

IF MATTERS WORKED out better for Mark Rogers, he might have been at Fenway on Friday. Mark Rogers, a right-handed pitcher from Orrs Island and Mt. Ararat High, was a Brewers first-round draft pick in 2004. But injuries to his shoulder and wrist hampered Rogers and he was let go after last season. Rogers is now in the Mariners’ minor league system.

 

FOR THE CEREMONIAL first pitch, the Red Sox re-used a strategy of bringing in former Red Sox players and athletes from the other Boston teams. Pedro Martinez, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek walked in carrying World Series trophies. Former Patriots Troy Brown, Ty Law and Tedy Bruschi were on hand, while Leon Powe represented the Celtics and Mark Recchi the Bruins. Former Boston mayor Tom Menino rode in on a golf cart. Current mayor Marty Walsh also took part.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady did not take part in the ceremonies but was at the game and caused a stir in the crowd when he was spied on the video board.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:kthomas@pressherald.comTwitter: KevinThomasPPH