There was a time last April when Red Sox manager Terry Francona finally gave in and plugged Mike Lowell into the designated hitter role against left-handed pitchers, a somewhat controversial move in that it relegated the struggling but established David Ortiz to that of a platoon player.
Throughout the rather brief stretch, which ended when Ortiz caught fire in May, Francona insisted there was not a platoon situation. He has said the same about the current state of things in right field. For a day, however, J.D. Drew is being sat down with lefty C.J. Wilson (3-1, 1.42 ERA vs. Boston) on the mound Friday in Texas.
This decision might be easier to make than the Ortiz-Lowell swap. Francona can turn to the production vs. southpaws for Drew and for that of his replacement, Mike Cameron, and make a rather easy call.
Drew hit .208 with 44 strikeouts in 149 at-bats vs. left-handers in 2010. Cameron, in somewhat limited action, hit .357 (15-for-42) with an OPS nearly twice that of Drew's. For their careers, Cameron's OPS against left-handers is 86 points higher than that of Drew and the defensive dropoff may not be much with Drew out of the mix.
The question is, do those numbers imply that Francona will use Cameron against all lefties, despite what he says? The answer will come in time.
With his Opening Day lineup, Francona may have also tipped his hand on plans for what how he will handle Adrian Gonzalez this year as well. He has Gonzalez batting fifth, a spot he may see plenty of when lefties are on the mound. Gonzalez figures to flip-flop with Kevin Youkilis, Friday's cleanup hitter, when righties are on the mound.
Wilson has dominated the Red Sox in his career. He was 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA in three meetings last season and Friday's starters for Boston are a combined 9-for-57 (.158) with 15 strikeouts vs. Wilson.
With Jon Lester (3-1, 2.94 ERA vs. Texas) on the mound, here is the complete batting lineup for Boston.
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Carl Crawford, LF
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Cameron, RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
Marco Scutaro, SS
Here is the complete batting lineup for the Rangers.
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Elvis Andrus, SS
Josh Hamilton, LF
Adrian Beltre, 3B
Michael Young, DH
Nelson Cruz, RF
Mike Napoli, 1B
Yorvit Torrealba, C
Julio Borbon, CF