ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. Despite being second in the major leagues in runs scored only the powerhouse Texas Rangers have scored more the Red Sox haven't solved the issue of who should be their leadoff hitter.
With Jacoby Ellsbury (shoulder) out for at least another month, the Sox have experimented with a number of choices, none of which have been successful for an extended period of time.
Shortstop Mike Aviles was the early choice to hit first after Ellsbury went down, but his on-base percentage has dropped to .292.
"I think Mike's a good offensive player," said Bobby Valentine, "and in a perfect world, could be batting in a lot of places in our lineup and being productive. But I don't know that first is the one (spot) I would choose first."
More recently, Valentine has utilized Ryan Sweeney against righthanders, but Sweeney, who had been successful at the plate while hitting lower in the order, has slumped of late. Sweeney was just 4-for-23 on the recent homestand, and hitting at the top of the order, has just five hits in 26 at-bats for a .192 batting average and an OBP of .222.
By contrast, Sweeney is hitting .355 (32-for-90) in all other spots in the batting order.
"I'm not sure he's totally comfortable in the leadoff spot," said Valentine, "and I'm not totally comfortable putting him there."
Asked if was mulling other options to hit leadoff, Valentine said: "Every minute . . . yeah."
Outfielder Daniel Nava, who has a .708 OBP in just six games, is one of the candidates being considered. He's reached base in 17 of his 24 plate appearances since being promoted last week.