Valentine pencils Nava into the leadoff spot

762158.jpg

Valentine pencils Nava into the leadoff spot

BOSTON -- For the first time this season, Daniel Nava found himself in the leadoff spot in the Red Sox batting order, replacing shortstop Mike Aviles, who was moved to ninth in the lineup.

Manager Bobby Valentine continues to experiment with different lineups, with both of his natural choices for leadoff -- outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford -- sidelined with long-term injuries.

"I'd love to have traditional on-base guys in front of the guys who hit home runs and everything,'' said Valentine. "But when you're making due with what you have, I don't mind having a guy who can do some damage (like Aviles) up there. Mike is there,
does a great job and being that he's playing every day, he just needs a little breather.''

For now, Nava is the choice. He has slumped of late, going hitless in nine at-bats against Tampa Bay over the weekend, but he still sports a .448 on-base percentage.

"Nava's played so well and his at-bats are calm and deep,'' explained Valentine. "He might have the best on-base percentage on our team, for this short period, for whatever that's worth. So, hopefully, he'll get on in front of the big spots.

"I was reluctant to do it earlier, only because he was getting his feet wet at the major league level. I didn't want to get him over his head. But he seems like he's settled in nicely.''

Nava is the fifth player to hit leadoff for the Sox this season, following Aviles, Ellsbury, Nick Punto and Ryan Sweeney.

"He knows himself as a hitter,'' said Valentine of Nava. "I like people who know what they can do. He's taken a shot at hitting the ball deep when he's in the right count. He takes the pitch that he doesn't handle well early in the count. He takes a full swing almost every time he swings.''

Red Sox avoid arbitration with Bogaerts, Holt with 1-year deals

Red Sox avoid arbitration with Bogaerts, Holt with 1-year deals

Facing a 1 p.m. Friday deadline to avoid arbitration, the Red Sox reportedly agreed to a one-year, $3.6 million deal with center field Jackie Bradley Jr., and also avoided hearings with six other players.

Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, utilityman Brock Holt, pitchers Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross Jr., Tyler Thornburgh and catcher Sandy Leon also agreed to one-year deals.

Terms of the deals were not announced.

It leaves left-handers Fernando Abad and Drew Pomeranz as the only arbitration-eligible Red Sox without a deal.  

Report: Bradley Jr. avoids arbitration, agrees to 1-year, $3.6M deal with Red Sox

Report: Bradley Jr. avoids arbitration, agrees to 1-year, $3.6M deal with Red Sox

Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year, $3.6 million deal with the team, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported.

Bradley, who turns 27 April 19, had his best season in 2016, hitting .267 with 26 homers and a league-best 29-game hitting streak. He also won his first Gold Glove. A Scott Boras client, Bradley isn’t eligible for free agency until 2020. 
 
Friday at 1 p.m. was the deadline to reach deals to avoid arbitration. 

Other arbitration-eligible Red Sox are infielders Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, left-handers Drew Pomeranz and Fernando Abad, right-handers Joe Kelly, Robbie Ross and Tyler Thornburg and catcher Sandy Leon.