BOSTON — It took some time and some experimenting. But the Red Sox might have found an answer to one of their most pressing questions.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was forced to tinker with his lineup for most of April, as both injuries and inconsistency plagued Boston. One of the most glaring holes was located atop the order, where the Red Sox struggled to get production out of the leadoff spot. Dustin Pedroia has begun to change things of late, though, mitigating concerns that the Red Sox might never overcome the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury.
Pedroia has led off the last 11 games for Boston. He’s hitting .298 (14-for-47) with a .400 on-base percentage in that span, during which the Red Sox are 6-5. The numbers, while very solid, aren’t totally eye-popping, but it’s becoming abundantly clear the Red Sox are benefiting from having some newfound stability after a month of shuffling.
“The one thing Pedey’s done since going into the leadoff spot is solidify the leadoff position,” Farrell said after Tuesday’s 4-3, 12-inning win over the Cincinnati Reds. “He’s getting on base multiple times a night (and) the 300th double of his career (Tuesday) is quite a feat.”
Pedroia reached base four times Tuesday, going 3-for-5 with two doubles, a single and a walk. The four-time All-Star walked to begin the game, and he now has reached base in seven of his 14 game-opening plate appearances this season. The 30-year-old is hitting .321 with a .421 on-base percentage in 19 games since receiving a cortisone shot in his sore left wrist.
Pedroia’s overall season numbers aren’t staggering, but they are trending in the right direction. The biggest reason is that Pedroia seems to be over his ailments — the sore wrist and the thumb injury that plagued him throughout 2013 — and finally is getting back to his normal offensive approach, which involves swinging the bat with greater authority.
Farrell said upon Shane Victorino’s return that he’d like to try to ride out the Red Sox’s current lineup construction for a bit to see how things play out. So far, the results have represented a step in the right direction and a reason to continue down the current path.
The Red Sox’s lineup certainly is different this season without Ellsbury’s dynamism atop the order. But it’s finally starting to look like the lineup might not be that much worse, or, at the very least, that any offensive issues the Red Sox experience from here on out won’t be the direct result of lingering leadoff woes.