Masataka Yoshida started 20 games for the Boston Red Sox before Friday night’s series opener against the Cleveland Guardians at Fenway Park.
He batted cleanup 18 times, with the lone exceptions being when he hit sixth on two separate occasions.
Now, Yoshida will try something new, as Red Sox manager Alex Cora penciled him into the No. 2 spot as Boston faces Cleveland ace Shane Bieber.
Yoshida enters Friday riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he slashed .464/.484/.821 with three home runs and 10 RBIs in 31 plate appearances. It certainly appears his early-season struggles are behind him, which is good news for the Red Sox as they continue to piece together their lineup amid both injuries and inconsistency from the mound.
Rafael Devers will bat fourth with Yoshida moving up. They’ll sandwich Justin Turner, who’s serving as the designated hitter, while Alex Verdugo continues to lead off.
Verdugo (right field) and Yoshida (left field) will be joined in the outfield by Jarren Duran (center field), who’s been a sparkplug since rejoining the club from Triple-A Worcester. Enmanuel Valdez, drawing the start at second base with Yu Chang injured and a right-hander on the bump, will look to provide a similar energy boost in his callup to The Show. He’ll share the middle infield with the super-versatile Kiké Hernández.
Friday night’s first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET, and you can watch all of the action on NESN+, beginning with “Red Sox Friday Night Fenway LIVE” at 5:30 p.m.
Game 6 of the Boston Bruins’ first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Florida Panthers will air on NESN, with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. and puck drop scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Here are the full lineups for Friday night’s Red Sox vs. Guardians matchup.
BOSTON RED SOX (13-13)
Alex Verdugo, RF
Masataka Yoshida, LF
Justin Turner, DH
Rafael Devers, 3B
Triston Casas, 1B
Jarren Duran, CF
Kiké Hernández, SS
Reese McGuire, C
Enmanuel Valdez, 2B
Nick Pivetta, RHP (1-1, 4.58 ERA)
CLEVELAND GUARDIANS (12-13)
Steven Kwan, LF
Amed Rosario, SS
José Ramírez, 3B
Josh Naylor, 1B
Josh Bell, DH
Andrés Giménez, 2B
Mike Zunino, C
Will Brennan, RF
Myles Straw, CF
Shane Bieber, RHP (1-1, 3.23 ERA)