Before continuing a rundown of the Royals’ AL opponents, a bit of actual news from spring training: Kansas City manager Whitey Herzog announced Paul Splittorff, Mark Littell, and Larry Gura would all see action in the team’s first exhibition game, scheduled for March 11 against Philadelphia. Herzog also promised that all 40 players in big-league camp would see action in preseason games, even ones not expected to make the Opening Day roster.
Now, on to the Boston Red Sox. One year after losing a classic World Series to Cincinnati, the Sox tumbled to an 83-79 record. The heart of that Series team was still there, of course–Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Dwight Evans. They just weren’t quite as good as they had been the year before. It was still a formidable offense, though, scoring 4.42 runs per game (third-highest in the AL) and leading the league in home runs and slugging percentage.
The pitching staff, mainly thanks to Luis Tiant and Fergie Jenkins, finished with an ERA of 3.52, which was also the league average. Rick Wise backed up the big two with 14 wins and a 3.53 ERA, but Boston was hurt by missing Bill Lee for two months after he was injured during a Red Sox-Yankees brawl in late May.
Boston made two major moves in the offseason. They signed free agent reliever Bill Campbell away from the Twins after he had 20 saves and led the league in appearances with 78(!). Then they traded Cecil Cooper to Milwaukee, bringing back two former Boston players, George Scott and Bernie Carbo, in an attempt to balance out what had been a lefty-heavy lineup.
With even more offensive firepower, the Red Sox were expected to challenge the Yankees for the division title.