By Danny Picard
BOSTON -- With the Red Sox having both Wednesday and Thursday off, manager Terry Francona felt it was important to make sure some of his key offensive players didnt get too much rest.Therefore, left-handed hitters David Ortiz, J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury are all in the starting lineup for tonights game against lefty Brett Cecil and the Toronto Blue Jays. Ortiz, Drew, and Ellsbury all started the teams last game Tuesdays 3-2 loss to Tampa Bay on the bench. Each came in to pinch-hit in the ninth, but Francona started Jed Lowrie, Darnell McDonald and Mike Cameron in their place, to face tough lefty David Price. But because sitting Ortiz, Drew, and Ellsbury again would give them four straight nights off, Francona thought that would be too much time for them to sit. Thats too long for not playing a game, said Francona prior to Fridays game at Fenway Park. It ends up being counterproductive. Theyve got another lefty Saturday, its a day game after a night game. We can do some shifting the next couple of days. I didn't want to do it tonight. With multiple lefties taking the mound in several upcoming games with Toronto and Oakland, Francona will have to pick and choose his matchups wisely. Not much has worked out real well yet so I can't sit here and say weve pulled all the right strings, because not much has really gone well, said Francona on his roster management against lefties. And were probably going to see left-handers if at all possible. Thats the way it works. Im trying to find the right days, if were going to face guys in a row, find the right day where it helps ours guys a little bit. If were going to sit somebody, I want there to be a good reason. I think well hit everybody. Francona spoke about a half hour after Adrian Gonzalez press conference ended, which officially announced his seven-year 154 million contract extension. The Red Sox manager strongly supported that extension. I know theres some huge decisions that management and ownership has to make, said Francona. For me thats a pretty low risk. We were talking about a lot of years and a lot of money and I cant think of a guy that . . . he gets it. Hes a solid, solid teammate. Hes a really good hitter. If he loses a little bit of speed over the next five years, nobodys going to know. I think its a pretty good move. Francona also believes that the extension takes some pressure off Gonzalez, and helps him focus strictly on baseball. I think its human nature, said Francona. I think the biggest thing, and all players are different but I remember when Pedey was going through it, the fact that he could just come out and play baseball doesnt give you one more thing to worry about. Its probably hard for the normal person to think that guys are worrying about millions of dollars, but your time can be a littler bit limited and when you're young. Slumps are hard enough, but when you start allowing other things to creep in, it can get harder. With former Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell returning to Fenway as Blue Jays manager, Francona hinted that Farrell will have his team ready for everything the Sox throw their way. He pays attention, said Francona. He paid attention to everything. Nobody ever accused him of that. Hell give them the full scouting report. Farrell, who spoke to the media after Francona, said that while he does know a lot about Bostons current pitching staff, he acknowledged how deep every teams scouting reports are in 2011. Well I know theyre all good, said Farrell on the Red Sox rotation. They all have good stuff. The fact remains that theres a lot of history with guys on our roster and in our lineup that have faced each pitcher in this rotation multiple times. I cant say that, having worked with guys in the past will have that much of an impact on how these games unfold. Its still going to come down to us executing within the game itself. If our pitchers and their pitchers execute, its got a chance to be a well pitched game on both sides. Certainly, theres some personal knowledge, added Farrell. But I cant ay that what I would give them, cant be found either through our own scouting reports or through video. And todays approach that all players take, theres not a whole lot of secrets.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.