Red Sox Succeed While Turning to Back End of Roster, Don’t Sweat Lineup Card

Red Sox Succeed While Turning to Back End of Roster, Don't Sweat Lineup Card

Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine’s words. Each game day, we will select the best Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.

Over the past few seasons it seems like "depth" is the most common buzz word general managers use when talking about setting their rosters. During a greuling 162 game season, just how good your 25th man is (or 26th, or 27th) can be a huge determining factor in who's still playing in October and who's watching from home.

With the rash of injuries to star players across baseball recently, roster depth is an aspect of the game that has come into even sharper focus, but it's a lesson that the Red Sox have been learning the hard way all season. Luckily for the Sox, apparently they have a great treasure trove of organizational depth, and have seen players like Daniel Nava and Ryan Sweeney play much larger roles than originally envisioned.

Nava especially is indicative of the kind of come-out-of-nowhere play that has bolstered the resurgent Red Sox. Formerly considered a 4-A kind of player, the 29-year-old, who wasn't even invited to spring training, earned 65 at bats last month after his May 10 call up and currently owns a stellar .987 OPS filling in for Carl Crawford in left field.

With all the shuffling going on in the lineup, it might be hard to find offensive and defensive continuity on a day-to-day basis, but the Red Sox have seen those players on the back end of their roster step up and fit in to the lineup seamlessly.

"They're not worried about what the lineup card looks like before the game," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine about his team. "They're worried about what it looks like during the game."

What Valentine means is that players are putting aside their egos, not worrying about where they fall in the lineup (or whether they're in it), and focus on being prepared for whatever role they're assigned to. For Nick Punto, Saturday that meant filling the second base shoes of Dustin Pedroia, and has been the Red Sox calling card all season, the backup more than did his job, falling a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

So whether it be Punto filling in for Pedroia, Sweeney for Cody Ross, Alfredo Aceves assuming the closer's role, or Daniel Bard stretching himself out as a starter, the Red Sox as individuals are just doing what's asked of them, and thus winning as a team.