Pedroia settling into leadoff role

Pedroia settling into leadoff role
May 9, 2014, 7:15 pm

ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's been a few weeks now since Dustin Pedroia settled into the leadoff spot for the Red Sox, and while he may not profile as the prototypical leadoff man, he's done the job well enough.    

Over the previous 12 games before the Red Sox opened a six-game road trip Friday night, Pedroia was hitting .288 with an on-base percentage of .383 in the role, while scoring nine runs in that span.    

"Considering that he's getting on base a couple of times a night,'' said John Farrell, "he's set the table for us. Given the personnel we have, he's the one true legitimate candidate to not only get on base but to do some things to set the table for (Shane Victorino, David Ortiz and Mike Napoli) behind him. He's the guy.''    

In the past, Pedroia had said that he would prefer to hit almost anywhere else but leadoff, but with the team in need of someone to hit first after Jacoby Ellsbury left and Daniel Nava failed in the role, Pedroia has embraced it.    

"Dustin's all about what we are as a team,'' said Farrell, "and doing whatever he can to suit our needs and to impact the game in a positive way. He's the ultimate unselfish player. Given our need, he was open to doing it.''

* The Red Sox went into Friday night as one of just three American League teams -- the Orioles and Angels were the others -- to use only five starters through the first five weeks of the season. In 35 games played -- counting Friday -- the Red Sox used five starters, each taking seven turns each.    

"If you look at any team sustaining success or [one that] has an opportunity to work deep into the season,'' said Farrell, "the rotation is going to be something that you're going to point to. It's a testament to their abilities, their work ethic and the program that our medical staff has in place for them.    

"We monitor their work closely and we also recognize that pitching is a game of attrition. We spend a lot of time and resources making sure that they're healthy and we keep them healthy.''    

In spring training, the Sox brought a number of starters (Jon Lester, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz) along slowly, in recognition of playing deep into last October.    

The hope was that approach would pay dividends later in the season, but already, it's helped keep everyone healthy.    

"Coming off last year,'' said Farrell, "we felt there was a need to adjust in getting guys in game shape. We'll probably be (more able) to answer that question as we get into the latter part of the season. That's why we also take advantage of the off-days (to give extra rest to the rotation) when they're presented to us.    

"It's just a combination of things that we want to (monitor) and we feel rest is an important one along the way.''

* Reliever Edward Mujica, who had an oblique pull last weekend, has pitched just once since April 30, but he's been cleared for game work.    

Now the Sox plan to re-introduce him in a low-leverage situation so he can re-acclimate himself.    

"We've had some off-days and our pen is rested,'' said Farrell, "so we'll pick our spots to get him back in game situations.''    

In addition to the oblique, Mujica was being hit hard and the Sox have been looking at video, attempting to find a flaw.    

"I think he was just presenting the ball early in his delivery to the hitter,'' said Farrell, "and they were able to track it early in the flight toward home plate. We're just trying to add some things to give him a little bit of deception and keep him on-line more consistently.''