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.''