Tito still mulling over Opening Day lineup
Usually an Opening Day lineup is pretty simple for a manager. You put your best nine players out there in the order you expect them to hit in for most of the season. But Terry Francona is faced with a bit of a different situation this year, in that his team is going against Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson.
How good is Wilson against lefties? Well, last year, they hit .144 against him with no homers and 12 RBIs. Yes, that is filthy.
“It’s not just the lefty, it’s who the lefty is,” Francona told reporters today from City of Palms Park. “This is something, that’s why I’ve been so hesitant to talk about the lineup. C.J. Wilson is one of those lefties, where on normal days, if it’s July, that’s the day you give your righties a shot. Now, it’s Opening Day. There’s some thought that needs to go into that.”
Here is a breakdown of Sox lefties lifetime vs. Wilson: Crawford 2-for-12, 1 HR, 4 RBIs; Ortiz 1-for-10, 1 RBI; J.D. Drew 1-for-6, 0 RBIs; Jacoby Ellsbury 0-for-1; Adrian Gonzalez 0-for-1.
So Francona has several dilemmas: Does he hit Ellsbury leadoff or put him at the bottom of the order? Does Drew start, or does Tito insert Mike Cameron?
Even though Jarrod Saltalamacchia, a switch-hitter, is going to be the primary catcher this season, does Francona give Jason Varitek the honor of starting Opening Day? His motive in that situation, aside from Varitek’s strong history with starting pitcher Jon Lester, is that ‘Tek is a stronger right-handed hitter and Salty is better from the left side.
What order do Youkilis and Gonzalez hit in? Does he hit Youk fourth and Gonzo fifth or vice versa?