By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Once again Terry Francona had the choice between penciling either the red-hot Josh Reddick or the aging J.D. Drew into the starting lineup in right field.
Once again the Sox skipper chose the kid with the thunder in his bat.
Reddick is in the starting lineup for the Sox against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park in their opener of a three-game weekend series, and the 24-year-old has earned the nod while hitting .378 with a 1.102 OPS in 29 games with Boston.
Reddick flared before flagging in stints over each of the last two seasons with the Sox, but hes making a push for the regular gig in right field while 35-year-old J.D. Drew has been mired in a season-long hitting slump. While the batting average and on base percentage are off for the outfielder, the real concern is Drews punch-less bat thats given the Sox less-than-stellar production in right field all season.
The .219 batting average and .307 slugging percentage for Drew are way off his career norms with the Sox, and signal that perhaps his bat speed is slowing down on the sweet left-handed swing.
With David Ortiz jumping back into the lineup against Felix Hernandez tonight as well, Reddick will be in against the Seattle ace. Francona said it was something of a no-brainer to keep Reddick swinging the hot stick, and compared with the decision to go with shortstop Jed Lowrie earlier this season.
Reddick is swinging the bat awfully well. Its pretty hard not to play him. I actually called JD last night to let him know what we were going to do just out of respect to him, but its a little like Lowrie earlier in the season, said Francona. Josh deserves to play. He has given us such a lift in the lineup. I dont know where its going to go. Nobody does.
As much as we want to win games, at the moment, Reddick gives us a better chance so thats what were doing.
Francona said Drew was understanding during the Thursday night phone call discussing his situation, and gave the familiar managerial refrain that he wouldnt be giving up on his embattled player.
He said he understood. I think he does. I think cares maybe more than people realize. Also I told him that Id never give up on him either. And I wont, said Francona. We all know what JD has in there and if it comes out wed love that too. Id love to be in a position where its hard to figure out who is going to play. If thats the dilemma its a good one to have.
Clay Buchholz threw a long toss session prior to Friday nights game against the Seattle Mariners after both the team and player decided to go from flat ground once more before jumping up to throwing off the mound. There have no setbacks at this point, but Francona hadnt checked in with the right-hander after his bullpen session.
Francona reiterated that Jon Lester was on track for a Monday start against the Kansas City Royals, and was passing through all of the Sox medical checkpoints with flying colors.