Adrian Gonzalez Batting Third in Fenway Park Debut

BOSTON — Carl Crawford has been with the Red Sox for a span of six regular season games, but he knows when it's time to shake things up.

"We're trying to find something to get in a groove, anything that will work," Crawford said Friday morning after learning he will bat leadoff in the opener against the New York Yankees.

The shift, which sends Jacoby Ellsbury to the eighth slot and bumps Adrian Gonzalez to third, comes a day after Boston was shut out in Cleveland and fell to 0-6. The team has scored just 16 runs in that span and is hitting .181 as a team.

While many will focus on the Crawford-Ellsbury shakeup, the impetus of the lineup change, one of many Terry Francona has made already, is moving Gonzalez up a spot. The slugging first baseman has played the bulk of his games batting third. As Boston's best hitter so far, he needs to be ensured a first-inning at-bat, Francona said.

"We wanted to get Adrian up so he hits in the three-hole and that's the best way to do it," Francona said of the shift. "The best thing of all is [Gonzalez] getting up in the first inning."

Gonzalez is batting .304. No other Red Sox hitter is better than .231, and five starters have an average below .200.

Crawford, meanwhile, is returning to a spot he last appeared in (as a starter) in 2007, when he played seven games as a leadoff hitter, batting .250 with two homers and a stolen base. For his career, Crawford is a .288 hitter in 367 games when batting first.

He was approached by Francona with the idea on the plane from Cleveland, and was on board instantly.

"We're trying to find something that works. He wanted to try me in the leadoff spot so I'm fine with it," Crawford said. "At this point, try anything."

1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Kevin Youkilis, 3B
5. David Ortiz, DH
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C
8. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
9. Marco Scutaro, SS

 

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