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X marks the spot. But which one?

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  October 17, 2013 11:23 AM

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DETROIT — The Red Sox are a methodical bunch, that much we know. GM Ben Cherington does not rush into making moves and that patience helped him build a strong, economical roster last winter.

Manager John Farrell has generally stayed with the same lineup and makes predictable, well-reasoned moves, He generally uses his bullpen in the same way, pinch-hits by script and doesn't make decisions based on emotion or small sample sizes.

Even the players follow that approach. The Red Sox led the majors in pitches per plate appearance and won 97 games by showing up every day and relentlessly grinding down other teams.

But the playoffs have no patience for patience.

Few would make an issue of Stephen Drew being 1 for 13 over a four-game stretch of the regular season, especially if the Red Sox won two of the games. But in the playoffs it becomes magnified. The same is true for Will Middlebrooks (1 for 10), David Ortiz (1 for 15) and Dustin Pedroia (3 for 14).

With talented 21-year-old Xander Bogaerts on the bench, Farrell has one card he can play. He acknowledged last night that Bogaerts was under consideration but didn't say for what position.

It's an interesting question. Bogaerts is a shortstop and has the most experience there, so perhaps he should play shortstop in place of Drew. But Drew is a better defensive shortstop at this moment and that's a key defensive position.

Then the question is which player to bench, Drew or Middlebrooks? Drew is 3 for 28 in the postseason and Middlebrooks 4 for 23. Facing Anibal Sanchez, Drew is 5 for 22 and Middlebrooks 0 for 2. Neither one of them did much against him in Game 1, although Drew did walk. Middlebrooks has more power but Drew is more likely to get on base. Drew also hits lefthanded and lefties have fared better against Sanchez this season.

The guess here is that Drew plays and Middlebrooks sits. Drew has more experience against Sanchez and the change defensively would be less. Bogaerts should be able to handle third base and his bat could provide a lift.

If David Ross catches, which seems likely, could Bogaerts hit seventh in the lineup?

Jacoby Ellsbury gave the Red Sox a lift in the 2007 playoffs, starting Game 6 of the ALCS, and then became a force in the World Series. Now Bogaerts will likely get that same opportunity.

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