Pedroia ready to hit leadoff if called upon

Pedroia ready to hit leadoff if called upon
March 5, 2012, 10:02 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- So far, Bobby Valentine is keeping an open mind on the composition of his lineup for the regular season.

So, too, is Dustin Pedroia.

Valentine had Pedroia hitting leadoff in a game over the weekend and expressed his preference, all things being equal, for a righty hitter in the top spot, followed by a lefty.

Under that scenario, Valentine explained, a lefty-hitter could more easily move a baserunner over and would be given an open right side of the infield with a runner on base.

If Pedroia ends up being Valentine's choice for the top spot, the second baseman said that would be fine.

"Whatever they tell us to do,'' said Pedroia Monday before the Red Sox played the Minnesota Twins, "we'll figure it out.''

It would seem that Valentine is trying to figure out how best to utilize Carl Crawford -- when he's healthy -- in the batting order. Crawford's speed is more valuable in the top third of the order and the outfielder has said more than once that he felt out of sorts hitting in the lower third of the order last season.

"We want Carl to be comfortable as possible,'' said Pedroia. "When Carl is good, our team will be unbelievable.''

Then again, as Pedroia noted, the Sox led the major leagues in runs scored last season with 875, so several combinations could work.

"I don't think it matters which batting order we throw out there,'' Pedroia said. "We have good offensive players. Whatever they come up with, I think we'll be alright.''

While former manager Terry Francona often said that Pedroia would prefer not to hit leadoff, Pedroia himself pointed out that he hit first in both high school and college, and then again in 2009.

"I'll hit leadoff if they ask me to hit leadoff,'' he said. "Whatever they ask me to do.''

Pedroia said he would have the same approach at the plate regardless of where he hits.

"If they throw me back at leadoff,'' he said, "I'll still do the same things.''

In 2009, when Pedroia last hit first with any regularity, he was too passive at the plate, wanting to see as many pitches as possible to benefit those hitting behind him in the order. As such, his career OBP in the leadoff hole is just .318 in 79 games, compared to .381 while hitting second.

Since then, however, he's learned to not change things.

"I think I led Major League Baseball in pitches seen (3,077) last year,'' said Pedroia. "If they tell me to hit leadoff now, I'm going to go up there and try to do the same thing. (On Sunday), I think in my first at-bat, I saw seven or eight pitches and my last at-bat, I saw seven or eight pitches and the one before I saw two and got a hit. So, I'm still aggressive to my pitch and if they don't throw it in the zone, I'm not going to swing at it.

"So I just have to stay with what I've done.''

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