DETROIT — Next year is finally here and Boston Red Sox fans can put last September's epic collapse firmly in the rear-view mirror. Much has changed in Beantown, and Stamford native Bobby Valentine is at the forefront of those changes.
The Sox begin their 2012 campaign and inaugural season under Bobby V on the road in Detroit. The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. Thursday with Jon Lester matching up against reigning Cy Young and MVP award winner Justin Verlander.
After losing out on a postseason berth on the final day of the season, the Red Sox had one of the most tumultuous off-seasons in recent memory. Manager Terry Francona was fired after eight years. General Manager Theo Epstein, architect of Boston's first World Series win in 86 years, split for the Chicago Cubs.
Boston has to deal with a major hurdle even before season begins — new closer Andrew Bailey will be out until after the All-Star break with a thumb injury. Alfredo Aceves will close games in his absence. The Red Sox also added set-up man Mark Melancon and outfielder Cody Ross.