Has there ever been a more anticipated return to baseball? We turn our weary eyes toward Florida not because the Red Sox finished last in 2014, but because the mere sight of palm trees and baseball players makes us think we might just survive the winter of 2015.

The thousands of New Englanders who manage to escape the north will arrive in Fort Myers with a healthy dose of curiosity surrounding the Sox. With pitchers and catchers reporting at week’s end, here are a few storylines to watch before the entire team reports on Feb. 24:

 The new rotation. The five pegged to start will ultimately determine how far this team can go in 2015. Rick Porcello, Justin Masterson and Wade Miley were all added to the mix this winter. Joe Kelly joined the team last August. Only Clay Buchholz returns from last year’s opening-day roster.

There isn’t a clear No. 1 starter in the mix, but with all three newcomers in their 20s, one might emerge. Keep your eyes on Kelly, who throws 96 mph and is only 26. He predicted he’d win the Cy Young Award, with tongue only halfway in his cheek. The award is a stretch but Kelly developing into a top-of-the-rotation arm is not.

 The accidental veteran. Clay Buchholz has spent his entire career as the “young dude” of the Boston pitching staff. All that changes this week. He’ll report to camp as the only member of the rotation in his 30s and will have plenty to prove. When Buchholz is on his game, he may have some of the best stuff in the American League. Problem is, he can’t stay healthy. And “stuff” won’t help if you’re not on the mound. Now he has to step up and lead the staff. Or he’ll be in danger of being passed by and passed on.

 The catchers. Christian Vazquez, just 24, dazzled us with his ability to throw runners out last season, nailing a club-record 51.7 percent of would-be base stealers. With numbers that look like that, you don’t have to do much in the batter’s box. Vazquez hit .240, well enough for a superb defensive catcher.

He’ll be joined by local boy Ryan Hanigan (Andover, Massachusetts), who was acquired from San Diego for Will Middlebrooks. Hanigan is also good defensively and was a much better hitter at one time. The Sox are hoping his offense will increase as his playing time decreases, which will happen as he platoons with Vazquez.

Behind both catchers is Blake Swihart, considered by many to be the best catching prospect in the game. He’s outstanding defensively and is one of the best pure hitting catchers we’ve seen in a long time. How the Red Sox keep Swihart challenged while Vazquez and Hanigan catch the big-league staff will be interesting.

The bullpen. Koji Uehara is back. So are Edward Mujica, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow. The Sox added veterans Anthony Varvaro from Atlanta along with Alexi Ogando and Robbie Ross Jr. from Texas this winter. That will leave the final couple of spots up for grabs. A young, hard-throwing would-be starter like Brandon Workman might fit in nicely to the bullpen. He’ll need a good spring since there just aren’t that many jobs up for grabs.

 The early arrivals. While position players are still a week away from reporting, many are showing up early to get a head start on the season. One player to keep close tabs on is Hanley Ramirez. He’s a proven big league slugger but will be playing in the outfield for the first time in the major leagues. If he can handle the position and remain healthy doing it, he’ll add major thump to a lineup that struggled to score runs last season.

But that’s a story that can wait until another day. This week it’s all about pitchers getting in their work with catchers. And palm trees and sunshine – another step closer to a summer that seems light years away.

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.