By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON David Ortiz has seen a lot of Red Sox lineups posted on the clubhouse wall over the last nine years.
Hes seen World Series Championship teams and hes seen baseball clubs that didnt have the goods to crack the postseason. Hes seen plenty of lineup combinations in that time period, and Big Papi has got a little helpful advice for his manager.
It might just be time to think about pushing Dustin Pedroia into the clean-up role on a little bit more of a regular basis.
If Im Tito Im letting him hit clean-up all year and make it easy for us, said Ortiz with a big smile on his face after Pedroia went 4-for-5 with three runs and an RBI to help lead the Sox to a 13-9 romp over the Royals at Fenway Park.
Maybe Terry Francona should start kicking the unconventional idea around a little bit more after Pedroias ten appearances in the cleanup slot have yielded a .559 batting average (19-for-34) with 11 runs, 10 RBI, 10 extra base hits and four home runs over the course of his career.
Its a small sample size, of course, but those are eye-popping numbers.
The Sox skipper admitted Pedroia will probably hit in the clean-up slot again on Wednesday with Kevin Youkilis still out of the lineup with hamstring tightness. He also hazarded the guess that hell hear about it from the verbose former AL Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player.
Well probably do it again tomorrow, and Ill probably hear about it. Pedroia is a pretty good player, said Francona. The three, four and five hitters all had a pretty solid night. Hes talking enough. Hes probably tired."
Pedroia lined up in the No. 4 spot in the lineup snugly between Adrian Gonzalez in the No. 3 hole and Ortiz himself as designated hitter in the No. 5 spot in the lineup, and he once again flourished in that spot.
The sight of feisty little Pedroia loosening up on deck between two of biggest sluggers in the American League even caused the second baseman to step back and laugh at his 5-foot-8, 165-pound body stacking up in the middle of the Boston batting order with the burly beef of Gonzalez and Ortiz.
A lot of guys swung the bat great," Pedroia said. "David was big for us tonight. Thats what good offensive teams have to do in being consistent. It looks kinda weird, though, when Adrian gets up to the plate and Im behind him. Then David is behind me. Its a little weird.
I use the same approach that I have when I hit second, so Im not trying to do anything different. Tito makes the lineup, he has 1,000 wins and hes trying to do special things so I dont know exactly what hes going to do. Im just trying to help us win and thats basically it.
The Sox second baseman smacked a triple in the first inning to extend his career-best hitting streak to 23 games and tied the franchise record for hitting streak by a Boston second baseman with Del Pratt from the 1922 Red Sox. Pedroia is hitting .392 with 24 runs scored and 17 extra base hits during the hitting streak, and has climbed all the way up to .304 with his batting average after a modest start to his season.
Then he jacked a single and a double in his next two at bats, and was of the way to hitting for the cycle for the first time in his career in just the fourth inning of the nearly four hour baseball game. There was a walk and a single in the two ensuing at bats, and Pedroia had one last at bat in the eighth inning to cap off hitting for the cycle with Royals outfielder Mitch Maier pitching mop up to him.
Pedroia got a decent amount of barrel on the Maier meatball, but didnt have enough oomph to power out a ball that landed safely in Alex Gordons glove at the left field warning track. The second baseman insisted he never stepped out of his normal hitting approach despite the cycle staring him in the face with a possible home run, but he very nearly made it happen anyway.
I knew it, but I was just trying to have a good at bat. Its a little tough when youre facing a position player thats just trying to get it over the plate. I actually hit it pretty good, but I cant supply that much of my own power. I knew I hit it pretty good with the wind blowing out, but it couldnt get there.
Pedroias final chance for the cycle falling just a little short is about the only thing not going right for the red-hot infielder at this point in time.