BOSTON -- All manner of Red Sox players have bounced in and out of the lineup -- Xander Bogaerts and Mike Napoli are two regulars who got the day off on Sunday -- but the constant at the top of the order has been Brock Holt.
One day after Sox manager John Farrell explained that the team would do all it could to keep Holt in the lineup despite the addition of Shane Victorino to right field -- a spot where Holt has seen 21 games this season -- he will play third in place of Bogaerts.
For Farrell there's little to no trepidation at playing Holt anywhere from third to shortstop to first to left field or centerfield on a day-to-day basis. And the manager said that whenever Dustin Pedroia gets his next day off, Holt would be the one to replace him.
"We're probably at the point in the year where it's less of a concern than it might've been when he was playing right field for the first time or left field for the first time of first base for the first time," Farrell said. "There were a lot of firsts this year for him. The way he's handled each position defensively, now we're finding ways to keep his bat in the lineup and not reluctant to change the position by the day."
While the daily conversations between Farrell and his staff now seem to center on how they'll keep Holt in the lineup, that was anything but the case earlier this year. And he certainly wasn't being discussed as a potential leadoff hitter to replace Jacoby Ellsbury.
"He wasn't in the conversation," Farrell said, "either in the offseason or as we got through camp. But to the level in which he's hit at or performed at offensively and the consistency against righthanders and lefthanders, it's been invaluable the continuity he's created at the top of the lineup."
Farrell said that part of the reason Holt has been able to put together a slash line of .325/.369/.467 this season -- most of that coming from the leadoff spot -- is that his short lefthanded swing is built for success.
"I think when you see a guy be able to use the whole field as much as he does," Farrell said, "and you see how he handles lefthanders, he can track the ball so deep into the zone that he doesn't over-commit early to breaking balls from lefthanders that run away from him.
"Because it is a compact swing, his pitch recognition can be I think a little bit better than some others because he doesn't have to start the swing early in the flight to home plate."