FORT MYERS, Fla -- Spring training is more than halfway over and Opening Day is less than three weeks away.
As last week illustrated, the Red Sox roster can turn on a dime with an unexpected injury or complication, but for now, here's a look at how the club's 25-man roster looks:
STARTING ROTATION (5): Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, John Lackey.
This was the quintet when spring started, and barring anything unforeseen in the next couple of weeks, this is how it will look when the Red Sox arrive in New York on Easter weekend.
There's potential depth with Alfredo Aceves (bullpen), Franklin Morales (likely to start the year on the DL), and in the minors, though Steven Wright isn't as close to helping as it first appeared.
Locks (5): Joel Hanrahan; Andrew Bailey; Koji Uehara; Junichi Tazawa; Andrew Miller.
Hanrahan will close, with Bailey, last year's closer, shifted to the eighth inning role.
Uehara and Tazawa will also get some set-up innings, with either available in the eighth should Bailey not be. Tazawa last season showed the ability to go multiple innings, while Uehara is likely to be used more conservatively and probably won't pitch on consecutive days -- at least early in the season.
Miller was to be one of three lefties in the pen, but injuries to Morales (back) and Craig Breslow (shoulder) mean he'll be the only southpaw reliever to open the season. As such, he becomes an even more critical bullpen piece.
Contenders (3): Alfredo Aceves, Daniel Bard, Clayton Mortensen.
Aceves is, in many ways, the wild card here. When he threw an inning in a minor league game at the Red Sox complex Wednesday, a number of scouts were in attendance, increasing speculation that the Sox would be open to moving him.
On one hand, he's a valuable piece for a staff, since he's so durable. But it may be that the organization has had enough of his antics and would deal him for the right price.
Bard has looked impressive in his last two outings, a signal that the week he spent refining his mechanics on the side is paying dividends. Still, Bard has options remaining and the Sox may believe he'd benefit from starting the season at Triple A to continue ironing things out, rather than opening the year in the big leagues.
Mortensen, on the other hand, is out of options and would undoubtedly get claimed if he had to go through waivers to be sent to Pawtucket. Though their stuff is different, Mortensen is, in many ways, an ideal replacement for Aceves, since he, too, is resilient and could get stretched out to start.
CATCHERS (2): Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross.
Nothing complicated here -- Saltalamacchia will open the year as the No. 1 catcher, with Ross as his trustworthy backup. Expect Ross to get more playing time than your typical No. 2 catcher.
The only thing that could change here would be if the Sox decide to also keep Ryan Lavarnway -- not as a third catching option but as a candidate to get some DH at-bats in Ortiz's absence.
INFIELD/DH (6 or 7)
Locks (4): Will Middlebrooks, Stephen Drew, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli.
That's the Boston infield, from left to right across the diamond. Drew's concussion issues seem to nearly over and Napoli has, to date, responded well at first, showing no ill effects from his hip condition.
Contenders (5): Pedro Ciriaco, Brock Holt, Mike Carp, Lyle Overbay, Ryan Lavarnway.
Ciriaco has a sizable edge over Holt because A) Ciriaco is out of options, B) he has far more experience at shortstop and third base and C) he would represent the only speed option off the bench.
Likewise, Carp has an edge over Overbay because he's a slightly better fit in the outfield and he's already on the 40-man roster, is out of options, and would be considerably cheaper.
Overbay is on a minor-league deal and would have to be added to the 40-man roster at the expense of someone. Overbay also has an opt-out in his deal for late March and the Milwaukee Brewers, who had an interest in him this off-season, are keeping tabs on him this spring.
Lavarnway has to be considered something of a longshot in the wake of John Farrell's comments Tuesday, which indicated the Sox are more likely to go with a rotation of players in the DH spot until Ortiz returns. Chances are, the Sox would rather have Lavarnway catching at Triple A then getting DH duty three or four times a week in Boston.
OUTFIELD (4 or 5)
Locks (3): Jonny Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino
Ellsbury will start in center and Victorino will handle right, with Gomes getting playing time in left -- especially against lefties -- and perhaps dabbling at DH.
Contenders (3): Daniel Nava, Ryan Sweeney, Jackie Bradley Jr.
Nava has helped himself immensely with his willingness to play first and the aptitude he's shown there. He could well be Gomes's platoon partner in left (Nava is a switch hitter, but is far better from the left side, complementing Gomes).
Sweeney is a plus outfielder and could handle all three outfield spots. But he doesn't offer much in the way of offense.
Bradley has had a fantastic spring and proven that he's not far away from cracking the major-league roster, but tempting as it might be, the Sox are intent on having start the season in the minors.
The big question might be this: Would the Sox be comfortable with Nava being the only true extra outfielder, leaving them with just one option (Victorino) in center?