CLEVELAND – Some of our pregame discussion centered around the over-under on how many fans show up here at Progressive Field tonight. The Tribe have had two crowds of less than 10,000 in their last two games.
With the Red Sox in town would it be more? With the Cavs playing and Charlie Sheen’s tour taking him here tonight, not so sure.
As you can tell by the lineup, a couple of things stand out as the Red Sox try to win their first game of 2011. Carl Crawford is back in his familiar No. 2 hole with Dustin Pedroia moving down to third and Adrian Gonzalez is batting fourth. Manager Terry Francona is trying to get something going.
Also, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is in the lineup again and had a little powwow with Francona this afternoon just to discuss relaxing.
Francona on Crawford batting second: “In the big picture, I don’t think it matters but I just thought he was trying to do too much when he was batting third. Maybe get him and Ellsbury back-to-back and get them on base and have them cause some havoc. We may drop him down in the order at least for a while against lefties just to make our batting order look a little bit better. When guys are hitting and getting into a groove, it won’t matter as much.”
Is the best lineup Crawford batting third?
“I don’t think it matters,” Francona said.
Any problem with moving Pedroia out of his familiar No. 2 spot?
“I think he can hit anywhere. He’s even told me he’d hit first. Our batting order might change early on depending on who’s pitching and how we’re swinging the bats,” Francona said.
Francona on why Jason Varitek isn’t in tonight’s lineup and why he went back to Saltalamacchia, who started the season 0-for-10:
“I think I’d like Tek to catch tomorrow or next day. If we did it tonight, it wouldn’t matchup right. I thought about it, but I think it would work our better if we went tomorrow or the next day. He’s gonna catch one of the two.
“I’d really like to get Salty going here. He was so overanxious, so swinging at everything. I’d like to get him settled in.”
Francona said he basically told Salty he needed to settle down and relax.
“That’s kind of what I did. I said settle down. It’s a long year, settle down. He knows that. It’s human nature sometimes. This game will humble you in a minute.”
Good for him to be out of Arlington, Texas where he once played?
“I know it’s good for us,” quipped the manager.
“I hope so. I think he probably had a lot of excitement and maybe some anxiety. Had a lot on his plate. A lot of balls weren’t going where he wanted them to. He had a tough couple of days.”
Francona thought the lack of success of the staff during the three days probably weighed on Saltalamacchia.
“Yes. Any good catcher takes it very personal. I’ve seen a couple in my day who don’t have a problem with it and it’s usually not on a good team. I think it’s hard not to take it into an at-bat. You have a responsibility to that guy (pitcher) and when he comes off the mound sometimes he’s in your ear about what happened. You’re trying to kind of give them (an opinion) and you’re the second hitter of inning and at-bats creep up on you. These catchers who put up phenomenal offensive numbers are probably even better than people realize.”
With temperatures expected to drop into the 30s tonight, Francona said “I’m going to start (layering clothes) in 10 minutes and once it’s on, it’s on. That means urinating is done for the night. Because I’m gonna be layering up as much as I can.”