Fort Report: Hello, again

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- John Henry warned me.

It was six years ago this month, and I had just started covering the Red Sox for the Boston Herald. I introduced myself to the team's billionaire owner, who welcomed me back to town (I'd written about the Philadelphia Phillies for the previous five years) and guaranteed, in no uncertain terms, that there would be few dull moments around here. Henry's exact words escape me, but it was something to the effect of "even when it seems quiet, there's always something to write about."

Looking back, it was the first tip I received from a club official.

And it was spot-on.

Within a year, the Sox dropped $142 million for Carl Crawford, traded the farm (Anthony Rizzo, anyone?) for Adrian Gonzalez, and assembled a roster that most people believed would win the AL East. By the end of 2011, that super-team collapsed spectacularly, and amid ashes that reeked of light beer and fried chicken, manager Terry Francona lost his job and GM Theo Epstein bolted for an arduous rebuild with the Chicago Cubs. In came Bobby Valentine, which ushered in an utterly chaotic season that now seems more like something dreamed up by M. Night Shyamalan. Bobby V. rode into Fort Myers on his bicycle and pedaled out of Boston eight months later after a last-place finish and enough brushfires to burn down a forest.

Next up: Worst to first, a World Series crown in 2013 and the adoption of a new philosophy that saw the Sox move away from big-ticket free-agent signings. But botched negotiations with their own ace, Jon Lester, the following spring precipitated a fall back to the depths of the American League and the homegrown lefty's departure at the 2014 trade deadline. The Sox reprised their free-spending ways last winter, adding Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval for a combined $183 million. But the "Gold Bust Twins" were terribly disappointing, the ace-less Sox finished last again in a season that included manager John Farrell's cancer diagnosis, the hiring of new president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and the exit of both president Larry Lucchino and GM Ben Cherington -- all within the span of a month.

Boring? The Red Sox don't do boring.

All of which brings me back here, to JetBlue Park, where the Sox open the exhibition schedule against the Minnesota Twins and I begin a new chapter of my career, chronicling our local baseball soap opera for ESPN.com. To those of you who are familiar with my work over the past six years, thank you for your support and I look forward to bringing you more news, analysis, opinion and perspective on all things Red Sox. To those who are not, please follow along, here, at Twitter (@ScottLauber), at Facebook (facebook.com/lauberscott) and on our many other platforms. I can't wait to interact with all of you throughout the next several months.

With that, today's lineup against Twins right-hander Phil Hughes:

RF Mookie Betts

2B Dustin Pedroia

SS Xander Bogaerts

1B Hanley Ramirez

3B Pablo Sandoval

LF Chris Young

C Blake Swihart

DH Allen Craig

CF Jackie Bradley Jr.


LHP Henry Owens