FORT MYERS, Fla. — Manager John Farrell continues to leave the door wide open regarding the Boston Red Sox’s leadoff spot.
The Red Sox are tasked with finding a new leadoff hitter now that Jacoby Ellsbury is a member of the New York Yankees. Shane Victorino and Daniel Nava remain the two leading candidates to assume the role, although Farrell reiterated before Friday’s spring training game against the Atlanta Braves at JetBlue Park that nothing is set in stone.
“I’m not going to rule out a scenario that would still have (Victorino) in the two hole. If that puts Nava in the leadoff spot, or are there days against left-handed pitching where Vic could be the leadoff guy? Sure, those possibilities exist,” Farrell said. “But again, when (Ellsbury) leaves, you look at the internal options and you talk about them. But then you continue to see how things play out and (see) what’s best for our lineup one through nine.”
Victorino is the more conventional leadoff option of the two candidates, mainly because he adds a speed element that Nava does not. But Victorino thrived as Boston’s No. 2 hitter last season — hitting .298 with a .357 on-base percentage — and Nava has drilled two leadoff home runs in spring training thus far. The Red Sox certainly have an interesting decision to make, although it’s quite possible Boston will begin the regular season with a fluid situation atop the order.
“When (Nava) hits home runs, he’s great in that leadoff spot,” Farrell joked. “He’s a good hitter, and the more times we can get our good hitters to the plate, that probably enhances our chances. He’s going to find himself in the lineup regularly. Don’t worry.”
“Runs are runs,” Farrell continued. “The one thing I like about Daniel’s abilities in that five (or) six hole is, to me, he lengthens out the lineup. He’s going to put up a very tough at-bat in probably a key spot, because you think that guys ahead of him are going to be on base just by their track record. As an RBI type of bat with that type of consistency, those opportunities are going to be there for him. All those things are being factored in as we look at it.”
While Nava’s high on-base percentage could be appealing, Victorino has far more experience in a leadoff role. Victorino has led off 216 times in his career, hitting .249 with a .317 on-base percentage in 1,010 plate appearances out of the top spot. Nava has made 35 starts as a leadoff hitter, hitting .252 with a .343 on-base percentage in 170 plate appearances.
Victorino, who has been going through some extra physical work in camp, could appear in his first spring training game next week, according to Farrell.