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Red Sox to watch: 9 key players for the 2014 season

Boston will count on several familiar names and some key newcomers as it begins its World Series title defense in its season-opener at Baltimore Monday. The Red Sox home opener is April 4 against Milwaukee at 2:05 p.m.

  • David Ortiz

    Position: Designated hitter

    2013 stats: .309, 30 HR, 103 RBI

    Details: He has a new contract, another World Series title and is coming off his fourth season with a .300-average, 30 homers, 103 RBI. At age 38 he can still hit. If he’s healthy, Ortiz will produce.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • Dustin Pedroia

    Position: Second base

    2013 stats: .301, 9 HR, 84 RBI

    Details: He was a driving force on and off the field for the Sox. He battled through a thumb injury on opening day which limited his power at the plate, but still played in a career-high 160 games.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • Jon Lester

    Position: Starting pitcher

    2013 stats: 15-8, 213.1 IP, 3.75 ERA

    Details: The ace of the Boston staff came on big in the second half of last season with a 7-2 record and 2.57 ERA. He starred in the playoffs against the Rays and Tigers and dropped his World Series ERA to 0.43 as the Sox knocked off the Cardinals.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • Koji Uehara

    Position: Relief pitcher

    2013 stats: 4-1, 21 saves, 1.09 ERA

    Details: A free agent pickup a year ago became the glue of the Boston bullpen. In the playoffs, he appeared in 13 games (13.2 innings) and allowed one run.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • Grady Sizemore

    Position: Outfield

    2011 stats: .224, 10 HR, 92 RBI

    Details: Sure, Jackie Bradley Jr. will eventually patrol center field, but while he continues to mature Sizemore brings experience. However, the 31-year-old hasn’t appeared in a regular season game since 2011 or been healthy dating back to 2009.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • A.J. Pierzynski

    Position: Catcher

    2013 stats: .272, 17 HR, 70 RBI

    Details: With Jarrod Saltamacchia gone, Pierzynski takes over behind the plate. The veteran has been reasonably consistent in his 16 big league seasons, batting .283, but could be on the downside of his career.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • John Lackey

    Position: Starting pitcher

    2013 stats: 10-13, 189.1 IP, 3.52 ERA

    Details: An 11-year veteran returned from Tommy John surgery to be Boston’s most consistent starter from beginning to end last year, before beating Justin Verlander in the ALCS and pitching in three World Series games.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • Burke Badenhop

    Position: Relief pitcher

    2013 stats: 2-3. 62.1 IP, 3.47 ERA

    Details: Right-handed reliever acquired from the Brewers for Minor League pitcher Luis Ortega. It’s his fourth team in seven years, and over his career he has a 2.59 ERA in 43 games against AL East opponents.

    Photo: The Associated Press

  • Xander Bogaerts

    Position: Infield

    2013 stats: .250, 1 HR, 5 RBI

    Details: We could be looking at this year’s AL rookie of the year. He played with a veteran’s poise in the playoffs when he took over at third base and should step in to be a solid daily contributor.

    Photo: The Associated Press