Rocco Baldelli will make his Red Sox debut tonight — and he’ll do so against the only other big league team for which he has played.
Baldelli, a lifetime .281 hitter in five seasons, will start in right field against the Tampa Bay Rays, manager Terry Francona confirmed during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “The Dale and Holley Show.”
The righthanded-hitting Baldelli steps in for regular right fielder J.D. Drew — a lefthanded hitter — in the lineup against Rays southpaw Scott Kazmir. Francona had hinted over the past week or two that he was hoping to work Baldelli into the lineup against Kazmir.
It might come as a mild surprise that Baldelli is starting in place of Drew rather than center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 0 for 4 with a strikeout in Tuesday’s opener. But the lefthanded-hitting Ellsbury has had past success against Kazmir, with four hits in 14 at-bats, including a double.
Drew is 1 for 7 with a walk in eight career plate appearances against the Tampa lefty.