Pablo Sandoval is trending upward — literally.
Sandoval will bat second Thursday night as the Boston Red Sox begin a four-game series against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. It’s the first time all season Sandoval has batted in that spot in Boston’s order.
“As I was sitting down talking about the lineup construction with some of the guys (Wednesday) night, it just fit and it worked,” acting Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo said before Thursday’s game. “He’s been swinging the bat very, very well. We don’t want to hit him seventh and we want to hit (Travis) Shaw up in the middle of the lineup. I think it just made a lot of sense to put (Sandoval) in that spot.
“It wasn’t like we flipped a coin or anything. We had a lot of conversation about it. … With Brock (Holt) being down (with a routine day off), it was a natural fit. It balanced our lineup well.”
Sandoval primarily has batted fifth (40 games) or sixth (44 games) this season. The third baseman enters Thursday hitting .368 (7-for-19) with a home run, three doubles and four RBIs so far on the Red Sox’s homestand.
Rusney Castillo surprisingly is absent from the Red Sox’s starting lineup despite Boston facing a left-hander in Danny Duffy. Boston’s outfield will consist of Hanley Ramirez (left field), Mookie Betts (center field) and Jackie Bradley Jr. (right field).
Lovullo said Thursday the decision to sit Castillo against a lefty had nothing to do with the outfielder forgetting how many outs there were in the seventh inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians.
The complete lineups for Thursday’s Red Sox-Royals matchup are below.
RED SOX (54-66)
Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
David Ortiz, DH
Hanley Ramirez, LF
Travis Shaw, 1B
Ryan Hanigan, C
Jackie Bradley Jr., RF
Josh Rutledge, 2B
Wade Miley, LHP (9-9, 4.58 ERA)
Alcides Escobar, SS
Ben Zobrist, 2B
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Kendrys Morales, DH
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Salvador Perez, C
Alex Rios, RF
Paulo Orlando, LF
Danny Duffy, LHP (6-5, 4.03 ERA)
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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