Crawford returns to second spot

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Crawford returns to second spot

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam

NEW YORK -- With just six games left in the regular season, the Red Sox batting order went through a rather radical overhaul Saturday as Terry Francona shuffled his lineup.

Carl Crawford, who had hit sixth or seventh for much of the season, was elevated to second, with Dustin Pedroia dropped to third, David Ortiz in the cleanup spot and Adrian Gonzalez inserted in the fifth hole for the first time since Opening Day.

"I just was thinking about it lot with (bench coach) DeMarlo Hale," said Francona, "and I spoke to some of the players and I think it puts Carl in a position where he feels like he can impact us a little bit more.

"I know his on-base percentage isn't typically what you would have for somebody in the two-hole but we're in more of a shorter sample size and it seems like he's trying to swing the bat. We want him to be aggressive on the bases."

Francona said he "invited (players') opinions -- and I got some good ones. I just think it's the right thing to do. We talked about trying to lengthen that lineup out a little bit and we think this is the right way to do it."

Crawford was happy with the change.

"I'm excited about (being back at the top)," said Crawford. "I can cause a little more havoc and play the way I've always played -- try to steal bases and get on for the guys behind me. I don't have to worry about trying to hit a home run every time (I'm) at-bat -- stuff like that."

In four at-bats, he was 1-for-4 with a run-scoring double in the seventh accounting for the only run of the game.

"It was a little different,'' said Crawford. "I hadn't been there in a while. It felt a little weird. It's just something you have to get used to if I'm going to be there.''

Terry Francona hinted that he would use the same lineup -- with Crawford hitting second, Dustin Pedroia third, David Ortiz cleanup and Adrian Gonzalez fifth -- in at least one of the two games scheduled for Sunday.

Crawford said hitting sixth or seventh in the order has been "very frustrating. (Running) is a big part of my game, so to have that taken away from you is kind of tough to deal with . . . I don't know how long it's going to last but at least for the day, it feels good to be back up there."

Crawford said he was approached by some veteran players -- whom he would not name -- to propose going to Francona about the switch.

One of the consequences to the move was moving Gonzalez to fifth, which Francona allowed was part of the "give-and-take."

"I don't think it's going to affect him. The way the other guys are swinging the bat, I think it's OK. I think the positives outweigh the negatives."

Kevin Youkilis, who hit indoors Friday, spoke with Francona and will continue to test his body Saturday and Sunday and see where he is physically on Monday.

Youkilis has been hampered with a hip issue and a sports hernia and has been in great discomfort.

"He's going to keep continuing and grind through it and see where it leads him," said Francona. "I don't know where that's going to go and I don't think he does either. Is he available to pinch-hit? How much can he do? We really don't know.

"But we'll give it a couple of days here and see where it leads. We kind of have to do that."

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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