BOSTON — Adrian Gonzalez wasn't anticipating an early exit.
After belting a single in the sixth inning of Saturday's 3-2 win, the Red Sox right fielder — usually a first baseman — was expecting to grab his glove and return to the field. Instead, he was pulled for pinch runner Che-Hsuan Lin.
With the game deadlocked at zero, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn't want to take any chances on miscues in the outfield. But rather than move Gonzalez to the infield for Kevin Youkilis or Will Middlebrooks, the skipper took out his slugger.
"I thought it was going to be a one-run game," Valentine said. "I didn’t want that one run to happen to be a run that fell somewhere that he wasn't going to get to. I could play three-run games in that scenario. Because Youk comes up one time before him, I decided to go that way and keep Youk in."
The quick switch caught Gonzalez by surprise. But he had already struck out twice against Rays starter David Price and stranded two men on base.
While Gonzalez didn't agree with Valentine's decision, he didn't complain.
"He's the boss," Gonzalez said after the game. "He takes me out, I got to come out."
In the end, Valentine didn't have any regrets. Although the game came down to a pressure situation in the ninth inning, catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia wound up lifting the Red Sox to victory with a walk-off two-run homer.
If the same scenario unfolds with Gonzalez down the road, Valentine is ready to make a similar call. With Gonzalez having limited experience in the outfield, the Red Sox skipper reiterated the importance of being cautious.
"He knows it’s a possibility [of leaving]," Valentine said. "He's not happy with it. It's a total roll of the dice. We're playing the whole game wondering exactly what we have there. I'm confident, but I don't want to learn the hard way. The hard way is always with a loss."
Gonzalez, however, has still managed to hit safely in six straight games.