This is sort of a manger's cut version of the Opening Day lineup, from top to bottom. We'll go batter by batter. All quotes are from Terry Francona (check out the video above for more of his thoughts on this year's lineup).
1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
"Jacoby leading off, he’s our one true stolen base threat. He’s probably one of the better stolen base guys in the league."
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
"I think where Pedroia hits speaks for itself. ... "
3. David Oritz, DH
"... Same thing with David."
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
"I thought Youk did a great job in the four hole last year. We could hit Youk anywhere we want."
5. J.D. Drew, RF
"You stick J.D.’s lefthanded bat there."
6. Jason Bay, LF
"And then the two righthanded bats, Bay and Lowell. There’s probably three or four guys that are interchangeable there."
7. Mike Lowell, 3B
"I certainly don’t think Mike Lowell is a 7 hitter. But coming back from the surgery, it’s the best way to get the most out of him. You get all the good, and if the one thing he’s lacking right now is a little bit of speed, if that’s the last thing to come, hitting him a little low in the order maybe lessens – if something's wrong, he’s down further in the order. And it stretches out our batting order."
(Francona didn't share his thoughts about No. 8 hitter Jed Lowrie and 9 hitter Jason Varitek because a reporter interrupted him before he got through the order.)
Taking the long view, Francona downplayed the importance of the order, particularly with this team.
"If we’re as good as we think we are, guys don’t have to have standout seasons," he said. "They just need to do their job. You know, I think the batting order can be a little overrated. If our guys do what they’re supposed to, we could hit them wherever we want. If they’re not hitting, it doesn’t matter, either. Those things get looked at a lot when they’re struggling, but if guys do their job – see a lot of pitches, grind out at-bats, keep the lineup moving – you could interchange names. It doesn’t matter."