FORT MYERS, Fla. - The 2013 Red Sox were World Series champions because of what they did on the field. The team pitched well, seldom beat itself and led the majors in runs scored.
They also benefited from some intangibles. Manager John Farrell recently labeled last year's squad the closest he's ever seen in some 30 years in professional baseball.
Much of the credit for that belongs to Jonny Gomes, who came to embody the team's scrappy, fun personality, first with the introduction of beards, and later, it's all-for-one culture that came out of the Boston Marathon tragedy.
Gomes said over the off-season that each year is separate from the last, that each team has its own identity, and the Sox can't hope to be the same bunch with the same unifying gestures as they did a year ago.
"Every year is different,'' said Gomes. "You can't repeat history.''
What the Red Sox can do, however, is create a unique persona for 2014, based on the changes that have made to the roster and reflecting the experience the returning players have shared.
That will take time, though. To date, the 2014 Red Sox developed their own personality.
"It is too early,'' he said. "When you build a house, you have plans. You need to build a foundation. In spring training last year, we didn't work on walkoff homers. We truly didn't work on workin up a pitch count for the (opposing) starting pitcher. It just happend (once the season began). But the first month of the season is huge in developing a personality. We have to bottle up what's right about and you have to fix what's not right.
"As valuable as that first month is (when it comes to creating an identity), you don't always get a good crack at it because of health. Obviously, Big Pun (David Ortiz) wasn't there at the start, (Jake) Peavy wasn't there, Koji (Uehara) wasn't our closer yet. But when they checked
in, our foundation, or whatever you want to call it, had been created, so they just jumped in.''
The Sox return starters at six different positions -- third base, second base, first base, DH, left field and right field. The rotation will feature starters who were all here last year. And the bullpen will have a familiar look, since, if Craig Breslow is ready, four of the seven relievers will be holdovers.
But there are changes and the Sox will have to wait and see how that impacts them.
"Our leadoff situation (with Jacoby Ellsbury gone) will be different,'' said Gomes. "What's that going to be like? Our catching situation will be different. What's that going to be like? You have to grind and apply pressure that first month and see.''
In the first few weeks, Gomes will be watching carefully to see what sort of personality the team begins to show, both on the field and off. He'd like for an aggressive approach to emerge, which will suggest that the 2014 Sox understand that nothing is being given to them.
"What should get stresses is our tempo and pressure,'' he said, ''to really drive home the idea that we're not sitting on the 2013 season. This isn't a parade year, or a farewell tour. Guys want to do it again. I don't like the phrase "defend the title.'' It's the 2013 title; we're already in 2014. (Winning last year) doesn't mean anything.
"We just really have to send a message to apply pressure with our tempo, just grind it.''
The final opportunity to revel in last season's accomplishments will come during the home opener, when the Sox get their World Series rings. Then, it will really will be time to turn the page and let the 2014 Sox stand on their own.
"That's the final beast, the last supper,'' said Gomes. "Now everything is 100 percent in the archives. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also looking forward to getting it out of the way.''