Pablo Sandoval

Red Sox pregame notes: Lineup shakeup in hope to change performance against lefties

Ryan Hannable
May 23, 2015 - 1:47 pm

The Red Sox will face another left-handed pitcher Saturday in the Angels' C.J. Wilson. For the season as a team, the Red Sox are batting .197 against lefties, with some individual players even worse as Pablo Sandoval is just 2-for-41 (.049). Because of that, Sandoval is out of the lineup, as manager John Farrell said he is over the knee issue after missing the last three games following being hit by a pitch Tuesday night. "He's available inside of tonight," Farrell said. "If there was a right-handed starter on the mound, he would be in the lineup, but with Wilson going it was a chance to get him another day down." There were more changes with Dustin Pedroia sliding into the leadoff spot, Shane Victorino hitting second, and Hanley Ramirez and David Ortiz flip-flopping so Ramirez will hit third, and Ortiz fourth. Farrell said this was based on their performances against lefties. "That's the reason you have Pedey (Pedroia) in the leadoff spot with Vic hitting second," he said. "The two guys that have handled left-handed pitching the best on our club so far. Give Mookie [Betts] a down day as well." When asked if Pedroia might stay in the leadoff spot past tonight, the manager didn't rule that out. "We'll see it how it unfolds," Farrell said. "Hopefully today is a day we handle Wilson who is off to a decent start, we get another left-handed starter tomorrow. Depending on who is available tomorrow to be in the lineup, we'll address that at that time." Entering the season, hitting left-handed pitching was likely on the bottom of the list of potential concerns with a lineup featuring Ramirez, Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino. But, after 42 games, it's one of the biggest -- although general manager Ben Cherington thinks it will naturally improve. "Certainly coming into the season we didn't foresee that would be an issue and it has been to this point," Cherington said. "Looking in hindsight at the first 42 games or wherever we are, you can see certain areas of performance and be like, 'Oh, that's why they are struggling against lefties.' We didn't expect that to be a challenge and I think that is something that can just improve naturally with the guys that are here and get guys into some established roles." OTHER RED SOX NOTES -- The team optioned reliever Robbie Ross Jr. back to Triple-A Pawtucket following Friday's game and recalled reliever Heath Hembree. "We needed another fresh arm in the event we needed to go multiple innings and Hembree was the guy we brought up," Farrell said. -- Victorino is playing for the first time since pinch-hitting Wednesday night and going 2-for-2. He was held out of Thursday and Friday's game with "general soreness" focused in the left calf. Farrell admitted his availability is on a day-by-day basis. "He went through some early running today and I'd say he's a go for tonight," Farrell said. "With Vic, I'll be honest with you, I kind of take a day-to-day approach with him."