Tito: 'No significance' to Ellsbury-Pedroia-Crawford lineup

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Tito: 'No significance' to Ellsbury-Pedroia-Crawford lineup

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Those seeking to read the tea leaves regarding Terry Francona's ideas for a regular-season batting order had some fresh fodder awaiting on the clubhouse bulletin board Monday morning.

For the second game of the Grapefruit League season, the Sox' lineup featured Jacoby Ellsbury leading off, Dustin Pedroia hitting second and Carl Crawford, making his Red Sox debut, hitting third.

So what was the significance of that?

Not much, according to Francona.

"That's today's lineup,'' said Francona. "We're just trying to win the Mayor's Cup. We front-loaded it today for obvious reason -- panic is setting in after a loss to Minnesota Sunday night.

"It's an obvious possibility to use that same combination at the start of the regular season, but who knows? We're just trying to get ready for the season.''

It's tough to read too much into a lineup that was not featuring projected starters Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkilis, Marco Scutaro and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

No matter what Francona does with his batting order, it seems unavoidable that there will be back-to-back lefties in the lineup somewhere. Presumably, if Francona uses the Ellsbury-Pedroia-Crawford troika at the top, Adrian Gonzalez would hit cleanup with Kevin Youkilis fifth, David Ortiz sixth and J.D. Drew seventh.

That would present two stretches of the order with consecutive lefties: Crawford and Gonzalez hitting third and fourth and Ortiz-Drew hitting next to one another at Nos. 6 and 7. But with five of their seven best hitters left-handed (Ellsbury, Crawford, Gonzalez, Ortiz and Drew), that's unavoidable at some point.

The key may well be leadoff, where Ellsbury is the manager's clear preference -- as long as he can handle the role.

"He was really starting to grow into it in 2009,'' said Francona, noting that the outfielder missed all but about 2 12 weeks with broken ribs last season. "At times, we would hit him down in the order to kind of protect him a little bit. But I think we've always said that when he's leading off and hitting well, that's our best lineup.

Francona seems to be holding off on naming Ellsbury as his leadoff man until he can judge the outfielder's readiness following his lost 2010 season.

"He came into camp swinging the bat way ahead of where I expected him to be," said Francona. "But he missed maybe 500 at-bats. So if it looks like that one fewer at-bat per game would help him, hitting him ninth to start the season is what we would do. We'll watch his at-bats."

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

Britton: Red Sox don't have anyone else to call up and pitch

Britton: Red Sox don't have anyone else to call up and pitch

Tim Britton of the Providence Journal joins Michael Felger on Sports Tonight to discuss another poor outing by Eduardo Rodriguez and what other options the Red Sox have at pitcher.

Quotes, notes and stars: E-Rod, Red Sox 'capable of more'

Quotes, notes and stars: E-Rod, Red Sox 'capable of more'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 13-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays: 

 

QUOTES

"The bottom line is, he's capable of more, we're capable of more. We need to get better and we had a chance to share that after the game here tonight. We collectively have to get better.'' - John Farrell on Eduardo Rodriguez and the rest of the Red Sox.

"We can't continue to expect our offense to climb out of holes, as we've been. We've got to set the tone and lead the way from the mound more than we are.'' - Farrell on falling behind early.

"Yeah, I think guys are playing hard. I mean, hell, our shortstop ran a 3.9 down the line in the ninth inning, down seven runs - then went first-to-third. So, yeah, that was pretty cool.'' - Dustin Pedroia, asked whether he was satisfied with the effort of the club.

"Do you honestly think I'm going to tell you that? I was talking to him about baseball. That's basically it. I talk to all my teammates every day.'' - Pedroia, when asked what he said in a mound visit with Rodriguez.

 

NOTES

* The 13 runs allowed by the Red Sox tied a season-high and the 18 hits were the most they've given up this season.

* The Red Sox have been outscored 22-0 in the first innings of their last 15 games.

* The Sox dropped to 4 1/2 games back in the American League East, their biggest deficit of the season.

* On the current road trip, Red Sox starters have combined for a 13.20 ERA.

* Boston has allowed first-inning runs in six of their last eight games.

* David Ortiz collected his 1,703rd RBI, passing Reggie Jackson and moving into 24th place all-time.

* Sandy Leon (two-run homer) has five extra-base hits in 29 at-bats this season. Last year, he had two in 114 at-bats.

* Bryce Brentz had his first three-hit game, first multi-RBI game and first multi-extra-base hit game of his career.

 

STARS

1) Nick Franklin

Franklin, making just his second start of the season, had a career-high five RBI with three hits, including his first homer since last Sept. 15.

2) Logan Forsythe

From the leadoff position, Forsythe banged out three hits, knocked in three runs and scored two to pace the Tampa Bay offense.

3) Evan Longoria

It wouldn't be a series between these two teams without Longoria doing some major damage. The veteran third baseman had three hits and two runs scored as part of the conga line that was the Rays lineup.