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Hard to find much positive news coming from Red Sox in Fort Myers

BOSTON -- From time to time, sports fans bemoan the media's tendency to focus on the negative. It's a fair criticism from people who are simply looking to derive some joy out of the success of their favorite team or teams.

With that in mind, then, let's try to take stock of any positive developments coming out of Fort Myers, with the Red Sox getting to work on their season.

OK. We can start with ... Ceddanne Rafaela. He's competing for the starting center field spot. That's cool. And then you have ... oh! Netflix. People love them some Netflix. And the Red Sox will be on Netflix later this year, and again next year. Pretty neat. What else, what else? The weather forecast looks good. That's a solid 10-day out there. Plenty of sunshine, high 70s. Nice.

You get the idea. Coming off two straight last-place finishes, and following an offseason with no meaningful signings, the outlook on the 2024 Boston Red Sox is about as low as imaginable. And when you pile up everything come out of Fort Myers right now, it becomes difficult to comprehend how an organization that used to be the class of MLB has fallen so precipitously.

--John Henry made an appearance at camp on Monday, but refused to talk to the media. According to one account, he laughed at even the possibility of having to speak to the people covering his team.

That's not new, per se, as Henry stopped talking to the media years ago. Last year, he chose to face the fans at the team's winter weekend festivities, but after getting relentlessly booed at that event, he opted out of appearing this year.

--Rafael Devers, the team's biggest star, spoke out about the team needing to add more talent. 

In the old days, star players in Boston didn't need to plead with the front office and ownership group to spend on the roster.

--Teoscar Hernandez really wanted to sign with the Red Sox. But the team couldn't make an offer to land him. Watch this video:

That's a man who just wanted to play for the Red Sox. (He ended up signing a one-year, $23.5 million deal with the Dodgers, a team that is spending in the way that many people want the Red Sox to spend.)

--Manager Alex Cora was asked directly if he wants to be with the Red Sox beyond the 2024 season, and he said he didn't want to answer that question. That no-comment came when Cora met with reporters for the first time of the spring, a session during which he spent much of the time discussing how badly last season wore him out. He also let everybody know that he doesn't intend on managing for 10 more years.

--Chief baseball officer Craig Breslow was asked if he believes the Red Sox will be a playoff team this season. He didn't say yes. "Uh, you know, I think it's -- I think it's kind of foolish to make predictions like that," Breslow answered. "I think this is gonna be a very competitive team. I think it's going to be a team that's going to see its players take a meaningful step forward. And I think there's a really exciting young core of players that we are really, really excited about and I think that fans are going to fall in love with."

--Veteran closer Kenley Jansen was asked if the Red Sox can be a playoff team, and his best answer was, "You never know." He also said this:


--One report suggested that "people around the team" are "embarrassed" by the team's lack of improvement over the winter. "I think that there are people in this organization who are genuinely embarrassed by the way the offseason unfolded, by the product that they're gonna be putting on the field this year, by the fact that we go into a season kind of knowing that they're going to finish last," NBC Sports Boston's John Tomase said. He later added that in his estimation, owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner are not on the same page in terms of roster-building and spending strategies.

--The team signed not one but two pitchers who ... likely won't pitch this year. Both Michael Fulmer and Liam Hendriks are recovering from elbow surgeries -- Fulmer's was done in October, while Hendriks' was performed in August -- and neither is expected to play in 2024. They could possibly help the team in 2025, but that doesn't do much for this year's club. (Likewise, trading away John Schreiber for a pitching prospect whose highest level played is High-A may be a strong long-term move but certainly makes the 2024 Red Sox worse.)

--Dustin Pedroia is bending the collective ear of the front office to try to convince them to sign free agents. "[The front office] got a FaceTime from Dustin Pedroia," team president and CEO Sam Kennedy shared this week. "And he reminded us who's still out there on the market and what opportunities might be out there. So we appreciated that perspective from Pedey. ... He was very clear about his feelings." That may be a good thing, technically. But it shows that even a retired member of the team's hall of fame is frustrated from afar watching the Red Sox lie dormant all winter. 

--Alex Cora's message to the team was ... uninspiring. Cora told reporters what he told the team: "Remember who we are. Let's not forget that. I don't care what people think -- two last-place finishes, all that. I mean, we're really good at what we do. And I think we gotta get back to that."

His message there was that the Red Sox are a championship organization, having won the World Series in 2004, 2007, 2013 and 2018. Remembering those successful years isn't a bad thing, per se, but it won't really help this pitching-deficient roster win baseball games in 2024.

Speaking of baseball games, they'll begin in a few days. The Red Sox will take on the Northeastern Huskies on Friday before beginning their big league spring slate on Saturday against the Orioles. Fans can finally catch a glimpse of the team -- albeit in exhibition action -- as the march toward Opening Day on March 28 moves forward. Perhaps some positive news will develop between now and then. Yet for the time being, this surely feels like the most lifeless spring training the Red Sox have held in a long, long time.

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