BOSTON The lineup carousels continues to spin for the Red Sox, and the latest version -- to be rolled out Friday in the Sox' opener against the Yankees -- has Carl Crawford in the leadoff spot.
There was some thoughtCrawford didnt really enjoy hitting out of the top spot in the lineupdespite his obvious athleticism and blazing speed, but manager TerryFrancona attributed that to a message put out early in Crawfordscareer when Lou Piniella was managing the baseball team formerly knownas the Devil Rays.
The move was designed to sparkCrawford after a 4-for-23 start with one run and one RBI in the firstsix games, and to ease some of the pressure off Jacoby Ellsbury bymoving him down to the No. 8 slot.
Ive been sayingall along that when Ellsbury is swinging good, we want him to hitleadoff, said Francona. Hes not been swinging terribly good, but alot of guys havent.
Its not so much a demotion asI wanted to get Adrian Gonzalez up into the three hole so he hits inthe first inning," continued the manager. "That was the best way to do it. I talked to Carl onthe plane last night. Obviously were trying to settle into somethings. I kind of explained it to him and said, How do you feel aboutthis? He said, Ill do anything you want. I thought he meant it. Idont want him to be somebody thats going up there to take somepitches. I want him to be himself and create somehavoc.
Crawford has not hit in four different spots -- 1, 2, 3 and 7 -- in the Red Sox' first seven games.
Francona saidthe 0-6 start had taken some of the coolness out of the OpeningDay pageantry, but that it was a fine balance between buildingintensity and creating a tightly wound group of baseballplayers.
For anybody that likes baseball, OpeningDays are so cool, but Id be lying if I said that we werent too happyabout where were at. It takes away from some of the pageantry. Youvegot to remind yourself that its a long year, and its ourresponsibility make it a good one. Not to be hanging our heads, poutingand feeling sorry for ourselves.
When stuff likethe overhead jets happens during the pregame ceremonies, Im usually by then thinking Lets go.Lets pitch. Get those planes the hell out ofhere.'