Terry Francona Marvels at Top Four Hitters in Red Sox Order, Each of Whom Overcame Injury to Remain Star

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Terry Francona Marvels at Top Four Hitters in Red Sox Order, Each of Whom Overcame Injury to Remain Star The fact that the Red Sox have had such wonderful production at the top of their lineup is one thing. What has Terry Francona going gaga is that nearly every member of that wrecking crew had a major obstacle to overcome.

"You look at [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia, [Kevin Youkilis] and [Adrian Gonzalez]. That's our first four hitters. They're all coming back off pretty major stuff, and they're all having phenomenal years," Francona said, referring to physical issues that dogged each of the guys in 2010.

Ellsbury was limited to 18 games due to the most famous broken ribs in Boston history. Pedroia was lost to a broken foot and Youkilis to thumb surgery. Gonzalez played through right shoulder pain for much of the season before going under the knife after the year came to an end.

Fast forward several months from a spring training filled with hope, but also uncertainty, over to how the four would respond, and the quartet is owning the leaderboards.

Gonzalez still leads the American League in hitting and RBIs. Youkilis is sixth in RBIs and doubles. Ellsbury is second in runs scored, fourth in stolen bases and is alongside Pedroia in the top 10 in hitting.

They've not only survived, but thrived. And aside from a slump here and there, they've done it day in and day out.

"They've played a lot of not just games but innings," Francona said. "I think Gonzie's missed like 14 innings, something crazy. The games Youk's missed he's been sick or hit a ball off his foot or something. Pedey's played almost every game. Jacoby's been out there all but one game and he got in that game."

Francona understands that while the team might've survived if one, or even two, of those four did not come back strong, it owes much of its success to the fact that all four have been stars.

"We're aware of that. It's a huge deal," he said. "Guys come back, but sometimes you see them come back more in name than what they're doing on the field. These guys worked hard enough to where they came back, and were able to not only help us, but to be some of the best players in the game."

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