Farrell considered taking Ellsbury out of leadoff spot

Farrell considered taking Ellsbury out of leadoff spot
May 21, 2013, 11:45 pm
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CHICAGO -- Jacoby Ellsbury had one hit on Tuesday but grounded out four straight times to second base on Monday night, including one double play. He is batting just .185, going 15-for-81 with 10 strikeouts this month, dropping his season average from .283 to .242, while his on-base percentage has fallen more than thirty points in that time.
“It comes down to timing, timing at the plate,” said manager John Farrell before Tuesday's game. “Whether it’s four groundballs to second base or whether it’s three line drives to third base. He’s in a situation where he’s working to do what he can to get out of this. And we’re working there with him. So this isn’t a matter of effort. It’s a matter of maybe being a little bit more free of mind and letting that natural ability take over.”
Asked if he thought Ellsbury might be trying to pull the ball too much Farrell replied:
“But inside a given at-bat you’ll see balls that are hit the other way, too. So I don’t think it’s about trying to pull the ball or trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark for the sake of making up for previous at-bats. It’s inconsistent timing at the plate right now.”
Although Ellsbury, when he is going well, would be a prototypical lead-off hitter, Farrell has considered moving him out of that spot.
“I’ve considered it, yes,” he said. “And we’re sticking with him to hopefully give him the opportunity to come out of the situation he’s in right now. But I can say this: Whether he’s hitting first or whether he’s hitting somewhere else in the lineup, there’s still things that we have to address and that he has to address. And those are ongoing.”
The absence of Shane Victorino from the lineup has factored in Farrell’s decision to leave Ellsbury at the top of the order.
“At this point, yes, somewhat,” Farrell said. “Trying to keep some element of speed at the top of the order. But that’s not the overriding thing. It’s still where [Ellsbury] has hit most of his career. With Shane being out of the lineup, yeah, we would like to have that blend of speed and on base ability even though the on-base ability right now has been less than.”
Ellsbury, who had an MVP-caliber season in 2011, can become a free agent at the end of the season. If he is pressing, Farrell said he doesn’t see that as the only reason.
“To say that’s the sole reason, no,” Farrell said. “I wouldn’t say that’s the issue of what he’s dealing with right now. I also know that he’s human and he understands where he’s at in his career, and what’s ahead of him. But the point that we continually try to make is that we’re a team of today. And that’s the most important point and that’s the focal point. What’s going to take place through the remainder of the season and in the offseason, time will indicate that and that will be addressed at the appropriate time. So I can’t say that pending free agency has caused him to [have] the inconsistencies at the plate.”
But, how long can the Sox put up with such low production at the top of the order?
“Those thoughts and discussions are on-going,” Farrell said.