Best candidate for leadoff hitter for Sox?

Best candidate for leadoff hitter for Sox?
February 19, 2014, 10:00 pm
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With Jacoby Ellsbury now a Yankee, the Red Sox have to replace one of the best leadoff hitter in the baseball. It's one of the key questions as camp begins in Fort Myers, Fla.

Manager John Farrell said Jonny Gomes may get a shot a leading off in the games he plays in. Shane Victorino is another candidate, but he's on the mend from offseason thumb surgery, while rookie Jackie Bradley Jr. likely isn't ready for the top spot.

A somewhat unlikely candidate is outfielder Daniel Nava, who hit a surprising .303 last season, good for eighth-best in the American League. Nava hit .289 as a leadoff hitter.

A year ago, Nava was just looking to make the roster in spring training.

"I'm grateful," he said. "The year before I was grateful to make any team."

Farrell said he saw Nava, 30, mature as a player last season.

He really grew up a lot," the manager said. "He grew up in the sense of his own confidence as a major league player."

Nava knows he's not the prototypical leadoff guy, though his .385 on-base percentage last season wasn't too shabby.

"I'm obviously not going to steal bases," he said. "Not like Victorino [who had an AL-leading 18 hit-by-pitches in 2013] jumping in front of balls."