Red Sox drop Gonzalez to sixth in the batting order

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Red Sox drop Gonzalez to sixth in the batting order

BOSTON -- For the first time this season, Adrian Gonzalez was dropped to the sixth spot in the Red Sox batting order Wednesday night.

Manager Bobby Valentine said said the move was made to get "a little more balance'' into the lineup against lefty Wei-Yin Chen, the Orioles starter.

But it may also be a reflection of the struggles that Gonzalez has experienced at the plate.

Gonzalez was 0-for-5 in the homestand opener Tuesday, making the final out in three different innings.

In addition to a surprising lack of power -- he has just four homers at the one-third mark of the season and a paltry .407 slugging percentage -- Gonzalez has struck out 47 times with just 16 walks.

"Adrian's a really good hitter,'' said Valentine, "but he hasn't found that rhythm yet. He'll have his numbers. I'm not sure if he's going outside the strike zone or he's too anxious and not waiting for his pitch. He'll have a walk and a home run in one of these games, and that will set him off.''

At his current pace, Gonzalez would finish with approximately 48 walks, which would be, by far, the lowest total of his career. In fact, Gonzalez's walk totals have declined in each of the last three seasons.

After drawing a career-high -- and major-league-leading -- 119 times in 2009, his walks fell to 93 in 2010 and 74 in 2011.

As for the strikeouts, Gonzalez is on pace for 140, which would represent his highest total since 2008.

Gonzalez owns a career 1.64 strikeout-to-walk ratio, but this year it's an inflated 2.94.

"I think the walks will come and the home runs will come,'' said Valentine. "I think they're joined at the hip.''

Sandoval 'starting from scratch' after career had 'fallen into an abyss'

Sandoval 'starting from scratch' after career had 'fallen into an abyss'

The Pablo Sandoval redemption tour is underway as the former World Series MVP tries to revive his career after two disastrous seasons with the Red Sox organization.

In an interview with ESPN Deportes, he admits to being “complacent” during his first two seasons in Boston after signing a five-year, $95 million deal. 

"My career had fallen into an abyss because I was so complacent with things that I had already accomplished," Sandoval said. "I did not work hard in order to achieve more and to remain at the level of the player that I am and that I can be."

After dealing Travis Shaw to the Brewers, Sandoval is expected to be the Red Sox primary third baseman in 2017.

"I am not taking anything for granted," he said. "I am here to work hard. I'm not thinking about the position or not. I am starting from scratch, and I am here to show what I can do on the field."

The 30-year-old says he’s following a “really strict routine” this offseason, and it shows. In a recent photo, Sandoval appears noticeably thinner. Sandoval says his wife giving birth to “Baby Panda” has served as inspiration.

"Watching 'Baby Panda' grow up and that he gets the opportunity to see his father play in the majors for seven, eight more years, to get back to the success I had, that's my motivation every day," Sandoval said. "The people that I surround myself with now and my family, they are the key to my success. This has been a life lesson."

Tanguay: Could Red Sox ownership be going for it now, then sell the team?

Tanguay: Could Red Sox ownership be going for it now, then sell the team?

Could John Henry sell ownership of the Boston Red Sox anytime soon, or does he want to keep winning?  Shaughnessy, Merloni, and Tanguay debate.