Spring training is finally here, and it couldn't have arrived any sooner. Bitter over the way last season ended, fans are eagerly waiting to see how this year's version of the Boston Red Sox will shape up. Anything's better than last year.
Of course, the Red Sox of yesteryear were anointed the best of the best, projected by most experts to return to the World Series and win it for the third time in seven years. For a while, it looked as if that may happen. Alas, when September came around, the Sox fell victim to their own lack of effort and wound up missing the postseason.
Here we are, nearly five months later, and the Sox are still surrounded by questions. Is the will to win still there? Will the players (particularly the pitchers) get their acts together in the clubhouse? Does this team have the talent to win?
New faces run the front office and dugout, with Ben Cherington taking over for Theo Epstein as the team's general manager and Bobby Valentine succeeding Terry Francona as the team's newest manager. With those two leading the way, the future looks bright. For now. We won't have the definitive answer until the end of the season, at the earliest.
At the moment, we'll have to start with the now (otherwise known as spring training). Pitchers and catches report to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, FL -- the new spring training home of the Sox -- on Sunday, February 19. The first workout will be held on Tuesday, February 21 and the first full team workout will take place on Saturday, February 25.
Get ready, Red Sox fans. We don't know what's in store, but it should be a fun year.
For more Red Sox Spring Training 2012 coverage, follow our StoryStream. Also visit our team page and blog, Over The Monster, as well as our baseball hub, Baseball Nation.