Francona: ‘What we were doing wasn’t working’
|04.20.10 at 4:57 pm ET|
The Red Sox are dealing with a number of moving parts. On Tuesday, Mike Cameron went on the disabled list due to a strain in his lower abdomen. Josh Reddick was called up from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace him on the roster, and, with Jacoby Ellsbury still trying to work his way back from injury, Reddick was immediately slotted in to start in center field against the Rangers on Tuesday evening.
But the changes didn’t stop there. Francona shuffled the lineup, inserting J.D. Drew in the second spot in the order, where the Sox hope he will get on base in front of new No. 3 hitter Dustin Pedroia. Victor Martinez was dropped from third to fifth in the lineup, bumping David Ortiz down to sixth and Adrian Beltre to seventh.
Francona typically likes to keep a fairly stable lineup, and freely admitted that the overhaul reflected the state of affairs with his club.
“I think I said on Opening Day, if we were making changes, something isn’t going right. I do believe in being very patient. I think that is what helps players. At the same time, what we were doing wasn’t working,” said Francona. “Our hitting with runners in scoring position right now is zero. … You can hit them anywhere you want. We just need to do better.”
The Sox are admittedly facing a moment of some urgency after dropping five straight games and falling six games behind the Rays in the standings. That being the case, the team recognizes the need for improvement, and the fact that they don’t have long to enact a turnaround.
“We’re very results oriented. The results have been horrendous. Hopefully the results will start getting better,” said Francona. “This is a chance for us to try to stand tall. We talked to the players the very first meeting, how a lot of our season will be defined by how we handle frustration. Are we going to be tough? Are we going to dig ourselves out of it? Are we going to make excuses? We’ll find out. This is a time for us to show what we’re made of. I believe that.”
–Francona is hopeful that, with rest, Cameron might be able to return from his abdominal strain in 2-3 weeks, rather than being kept on the sidelines for a period of months by worsening the injury in a fashion that might necessitate surgery.
“He’s got a lower abdominal strain that is creating a lot of discomfort when he tries to rotate, move,” said Francona. “Think about it – the last four or five days, dealing with a stone and an abdominal strain. Kind of amazing. He wanted to help us out and go out and play. We appreciated it a lot, but now we have to protect him a little bit. We’re going to DL him, rest it, rehab him and hopefully keep this a two- to three-week thing rather than an eight-week thing.
“The way I understand it is if you try to play through it and turn a strain into a tear, you’re looking at problems. That’s what we’re trying to stay away from.”
–Josh Reddick, who wore No. 68 last year and during the spring, is wearing No. 39, a number that suggests that he is viewed as more of a fixture. Still, Reddick suggested that he would gladly wear No. 99 if it meant that he was back in the big leagues.
–Francona suggested that Reddick is athletic enough to play any of the three outfield positions.
“Where he ends up as a major league player may have something to do with who we have, how he progresses,” said Francona. “He’s athletic enough to play center.”
Reddick certainly has the arm to play right field.
The 23-year-old was struggling in Triple-A this year (“Too many hits in spring training,” he suggested, alluding to his average over .400 this spring), hitting .179/.200/.359/.559 for Pawtucket. But in the last two games, he had three extra-base hits (double, triple, homer), and the Sox are hopeful that he can make a positive impact based on what he did when called up to play in Baltimore at last year’s trade deadline.
“As we’ve seen, last year when he was called up, there was an immediate impact with us with his bat and his outfield play,” said Francona. “Hopefully this will be the same.”
–Jacoby Ellsbury took batting practice on Tuesday for the first time since his collision with Sox third baseman Beltre on April 11. The fact that Reddick is now on the roster, thus giving the team four healthy players capable of playing the outfield (Reddick, Drew, Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall) gives the Sox greater freedom to wait on a decision as to whether to put Ellsbury on the disabled list. Even so, the team simply wants to let Ellsbury’s health dictate the timetable of his return.
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