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John Farrell: Loss of Jacoby Ellsbury’s stolen bases won’t mean fewer runs for Red Sox

02.28.14 at 10:42 am ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — The exhibition games have begun, and with the schedule kicking off, Jacoby Ellsbury‘s name has once again surfaced at Red Sox camp.

The first mention of Ellsbury’s name Friday prior to the Sox’ Grapefruit League tilt with the Twins at JetBlue Park came when John Farrell was asked if he had communication with the outfielder following Ellsbury agreeing to terms with the Yankees.

“He called after the deal was agreed upon, and to his credit he called to say thanks,”€ the Sox manager said. “I got the sense he was a little surprised it happened so fast to the magnitude that it happened. I wished him well, but now he is on the other side. He handled it with a lot of class. He was very grateful for his time here and gave thanks to the way things unfolded last year.”

What the mention of Ellsbury also did was offer another reminder that the top of the Red Sox batting order would look dramatically different on a regular basis for the first time since 2008. That reality was pushed along also by the fact that Jonny Gomes — a player who had one plate appearance in the leadoff spot in 2013 — was hitting at the top of the order against the Twins.

Gomes might not be the first leadoff option heading into the season, but he does represent the flexibility the Red Sox might have to enact. Other options include Daniel Nava, Shane Victorino, Grady Sizemore and potentially Jackie Bradley Jr. if the outfielder’s offensive skills progress.

But while Ellsbury presented the luxury of having a leadoff man who represented both the ability to get on base and then take another bag via a steal (52 in 56 attempts last season, to be exact), Farrell isn’t sweating the loss of that dynamic.

“The one thing it’s going to eliminate is a pure base-stealer. But that will not affect our aggressiveness of us going two bases, first to second and second to home. We feel like we have a deep lineup with good hitters,” Farrell said.

“Stolen bases can have an impact in certain points in the game. But to say by missing Jacoby’€™s base-stealing prowess, does that change that overall runs scored? We would probably say it might not. Bottom line is how many runs do we score. That’s our overall goal as an offensive team. We may do that a little bit differently, but still that’s the end result.”

Going forward, Farrell said his hope is to have a group of potential leadoff men who may rotate in and out but still have an idea what their role in the lineup will be on a daily basis.

“Depending on availability on a given day, or who the guy on the mound is, it could be,” he said. “If there is a different look, hopefully it’s within the same guys. My hope is as every player comes in they know they’re going to be in one spot or another in the lineup, and everybody fills into their normal spots. I think it’s important for players to come in and know where they’re going to be on a given day.’€

Following is the Red Sox lineup against the Twins.

Jonny Gomes LF

Dustin Pedroia 2B

David Ortiz DH

Mike Napoli 1B

Xander Bogaerts SS

Will Middlebrooks 3B

David Ross C

Jackie Bradley Jr. CF

Bryce Brentz RF

Anthony Ranaudo P

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