Crawford's spot in lineup still to be determined

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Crawford's spot in lineup still to be determined

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- So now we know ''how much'' (142 million over the next seven years) and "where" (left field in Boston) regarding Carl Crawford.

Still to be answered: when? As in: when will Crawford's turn come in the Red Sox batting order?

In the past, Crawford was said to be disinclined to batting leadoff.

For much of his major league career, Crawford has hit either first (367 games), second (590 games) or third (201 games) for the Tampa Bay Rays.

At his introductory press conference at Fenway Saturday, Crawford said he had no real objection to hitting first.

''I really don't mind hitting anywhere in the lineup,'' said Crawford. "I think those statements (about not wanting to hit leadoff) came when I was a little younger in my career and (that statement) kind of stayed with me, that I didn't like hitting leadoff. But I definitely don't have a problem hitting anywhere.

"As far as knowing where I'm going to hit, Terry's the manager and I'm pretty sure whatever lineup he makes out, I'll be fine with. I told him I didn't mind (hitting) anywhere; whatever he wants to do with me is fine.''

"When we went down to visit him (in Houston),'' recounted Francona, "we talked about where he was comfortable hitting in the batting order. He was kind of telling me, 'I can hit first, I can hit second, I can hit third.' I told him, 'What we want you do to do is be yourself. We'll sit down with Carl, Pedey (Dustin Pedroia)...obviously, he's going to hit in the top of the order -- (probably) second or third.''

"There are some things to think about,'' said Francona. "It's not an issue for me, because we're not asking to do different things because they're hitting in a different area. We just want them to be the players they are and we'll line it up the way we think it works best.

One of the factors that Francona must address is maintaining as much left-right-left balance in his lineup with a team which has five lefty hitters (Jacoby Ellsbury, Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz and J.D. Drew) among its seven best offensive players.

"At some point,'' said Francona, "we're going to have two (lefty hitters) -- maybe three on some days -- in a row. Thankfully, they're good hitters. We'll try to line it up. I need to do some thinking about that.

"The last couple of years, David and J.D. haven't been quite as strong against lefthanders; Adrian has. So there are ways to line it up where you can take away some of the other managers' (flexibility).''

In 2009, Ellsbury's last full healthy season, he improved his ability to get on base with a .355 OBP and is the likely choice to return there.

"I think I've been pretty consistent all along -- our best team is when Jacoby is hitting first,'' said Francona, "whether that's Opening Day, or it's May 1...Whatever is in his best interest, ends up being in our best interest. You know, he missed pretty much the full year. If he's ready to (hit leadoff), that's great. If he's not, we'll give him a little bit of a break and hit him down in the order a little bit. We've done that in the past
and we can do it again.

"But I still think our best lineup is when (Ellsbury) leads off.''

In that scenario, Ellsbury would be followed by, in order: Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Ortiz, Drew, the catcher, and Marco Scutaro.

If Ellsbury isn't fully healthy or is unavailable, another option under consideration would be use Drew, whose lifetime OBP is a stellar .387, as the leadoff hitter.

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

Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

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Wednesday's Red Sox-Yankees lineups: Second try at clinching A.L. East

The Red Sox try again to nail down the A.L. East crown tonight, sending Clay Buchholz to the mound against the Yankees while needed just one victory -- or one Toronto defeat -- to clinch the division.

Tonight's lineups:

RED SOX:
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Xander Bogaerts SS
David Ortiz DH
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez 1B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Brock Holt 3B
Andrew Benintendi LF
Sandy Leon C
----
Clay Buchholz P

YANKEES:
Brett Gardner LF
Jacoby Ellsbury CF
Gary Sanchez C
Brian McCann DH
Starlin Castro 2B
Didi Gregorious SS
Mark Texeira 1B
Chase Headley 3B
Mason Williams RF
----
Bryan Mitchell P

 

McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

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McAdam: Doesn't take long for second-guessing of Farrell to resume

Three takeaways from the Red Sox' 6-4 loss to the Yankees on Tuesday night . . . 

1) Long relief may be short for the Red Sox in the postseason

The news that Drew Pomeranz won't start Thursday and is dealing with forearm soreness was ominous -- to say the least. While the Sox aren't concerned enough to order up an MRI for the lefty, it seems a fair bet that he won't pitch again this season. Pomeranz wasn't going to crack the postseason rotation and would likely have been relegated to relief duty. Now, even that seems a stretch.

Add that development to the continued absence of Steven Wright and the Red Sox are missing 40 percent of their rotation from late July and early August.

Healthy, both would have been stretched-out and available to provide multiple innings in the postseason.

Of course, most teams would prefer to not have to rely on long men in the postseason, since their very appearance in a game would signifiy that a starter got knocked out early.

When that happens, however, it's nice to have experienced, dependable arms to cover innings and not impact the bullpen's high-leverage pitchers.

Now, in such a scenario, the Sox will likely have to turn to either Robbie Ross Jr. or Heath Hembree.

2) Is Aaron Hill heating up?

In the month of September, Hill has posted a line of .381/.409/.571. On Tuesday night, he blasted a pinch-hit homer.

Admittedly, that's a relatively small sample size. But Hill has had better at-bats of late, especially against lefties.

It's doubtful that he'll take over third base -- now or in the postseason -- full-time, since John Farrell has two left-handed hitting options, with Travis Shaw and Brock Holt. Shaw certainly more power and has shown the ability to go on hot streaks at the plate.

But Hill is a veteran player, albeit one with little postseason experience (11 at-bats in the Division Series for Arizona in 2011) for a 12-year veteran.

And one other benefit: Hill is a .373 career hitter as a pinch-hitter, making him a valuable part off the bench in games started by either Holt or Shaw.

3) One loss is all it took for the second-guessing to resurface

The Sox had won 11 straight before Tuesday's loss, which quickly re-introduced criticism of Farrell.

Starter David Price had given up four runs through six innings, but the Sox rallied for two runs off Tommy Layne in the seventh to tie things at 4-4.

At 76 pitches, Price went back out for the seventh and promptly yielded a two-run homer to Tyler Austin, giving the Yanks another two-run lead.

Price hadn't been sharp in the first six. With expanded rosters, plenty of available relievers and a rested bullpen after a day off Monday, why stick with Price?

Offered Farrell: "You go with a right-hander they’re going to go with [Mark] Teixeira and [Brian] McCann with that right-field porch,” Farrell said. “Wanted to keep the (right-handed hitters) in the ballgame, (but Price) mislocated over the plate.”