Ron Roenicke has experimented a bit at the leadoff spot, and it sounds like he’ll continue to switch between two players.
Both Andrew Benintendi and Alex Verdugo have had their shot as the first batter in Boston’s starting nine. Benintendi hasn’t had much success from that spot (or this season, for that matter). And both he and his teammate have told their manager they prefer to bat second.
But without a clear leadoff hitter, Roenicke will keep platooning between the two against right-handed pitchers for the time being.
“Just still switching them off and still trying to figure out where one belongs vs. the other,” Roenicke told reporters during his pregame Zoom press conference. “They both, I think, would probably prefer hitting second, so it’s switching them off there. It’s also looking at pinch-hit situations on where we think, if we do make a switch, with a pinch-hitter, where that fits better.”
Roenicke also noted that neither Verdugo nor Benintendi expressed a desire to not bat leadoff.
“Some guys just feel better,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s always success-driven. I think when you have big success no matter where you’re at, you’ll feel better in that situation and want to do it. Neither one of them have told me they don’t want to lead off. It’s just when you talk to somebody about their preferences and where they’re more comfortable. … Hitting second, you get to watch a batter in front of you and what goes on. Sometimes that’s important to you. It’s just the success you’ve had in the past and probably just where you’ve been used the most in the past that always makes a difference.”
Mookie Betts left a void in the leadoff spot when he was traded in February. And if there’s ever a time to experiment with the lineup, it’s during a shortened season.