Red Sox drop Gonzalez to sixth in the batting order

Red Sox drop Gonzalez to sixth in the batting order
June 6, 2012, 9:41 pm
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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.''