Red Sox manager Terry Francona made a bold change to the lineup today in hopes of sparking the slumbering offense. Usual leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury will bat eighth, and Dustin Pedroia will lead off. Nick Green also gets a second straight start at shortstop.
Ellsbury, depsite a recent 22-game hitting streak, ranks 23d among major league leadoff hitters with a .332 on-base percentage. Ellsbury has 10 walks in 221 plate appearances this season. Against the lefties, which the Red Sox are facing today in Toronto starter Ricky Romero, Ellsbury has a .268 on-base percentage.
Pedroia’s .419 on-base percentage ranks ties him for 13th among all players in the majors. Pedroia has 28 walks in 217 plate appearances. Ellsbury, Francona said, may also be able to be more
“You know what, we’re facing a lefty,” Francona said. “We’re trying to use some of these guys’ on-base skills [while] at the same time protecting some other guys. And then maybe we can use other guys’ legs maybe more aggressively than we do at the top. It seems to make sense today. Now, we’ve got a day off tomorrow.
“We’re a little bit in between on our lineup. Sometimes when we don’t score, you can look at a lot of things. It’s a little easy to get mixed up, so I just try to sit back and think, ‘OK, what can help us,’ without forgetting what can hurt us, is the best way to put it.”
Francona was asked if Ellsbury’s moving down would be a one-game deal.
“I don’t know,” Francona said. “The one thing I wanted to tell him was, ‘It’s not because you’re struggling.’ I just wanted to make sure he understood that. He had a 22-game hitting streak, as soon as you make an out. … I’m just trying to maximize to get some of the on-base stuff, especially against a lefty. Where he’s hitting today, if he runs, he can be more aggressive. There are things I think that we can use to help us score some runs.”
Ellsbury said the change would not affect him.
“It’s fine,” he said. “Whatever it takes. I’ll take the same approach wherever I’m at. Whatever it takes. I’m just going to go out there and play hard where ever I am in the lineup. I’m not really going to look into it or anything like that. For me, I’m only going to worry about what I can control.”
1. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
2. J.D. Drew, RF
3. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
4. Jason Bay, LF
5. Mike Lowell, 3B
6. David Ortiz, DH
7. Jason Varitek, C
8. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
9. Nick Green, SS
— Jon Lester, SP