Jacoby Ellsbury made his first step back to joining the Red Sox on Monday with a start for Triple-A Pawtucket. Ellsbury did all right, going 1 for 3 with a walk. I'll take that.
This means he's close. Barring any setbacks, Ellsbury should be back within a week. And with Mike Cameron right on pretty much the same schedule, this means no more Jeremy Hermida, Bill Hall or Jonathan Van Every in the lineup every day (I won't mention Darnell McDonald, because I like Darnell McDonald).
When Ellsbury does come back, though, do the Red Sox slide him back to the leadoff spot or does Marco Scutaro stick there for at least a little bit?There's a few factors to all of this. Will Ellsbury be completely healthy? Will he have the same speed right off the bat? How will he hit in his rehab starts?
The other factor is this: do the Sox really need to throw Ellsbury back into the leadoff spot already?
Scutaro's numbers in the leadoff spot aren't amazing, but he's certainly doing the job (stats prior to Monday's game):
What really pops out at me is his BB/K and his on-base percentage -- two very important things for a leadoff hitter. While Scutaro is hitting just .267, his OBP is a 90 points higher. It sits at a pretty solid number. Ellsbury got on base at a .347 clip as the leadoff hitter for the Red Sox last season.
We also know that Scutaro is a fighter at the plate. He has walked three more times than he has struck out, which is something you always like to see. With Scutaro's ability to fight off pitches, work counts and get on base, he's an attractive option at the leadoff spot.
As nice as it will be to have Ellsbury and Cameron back in the bigs for the Red Sox, the lineup hasn't really been the problem. The Red Sox have the second-most home runs in baseball and other numbers typically sit top five in the American League. So why mess with a good thing?
I think the Sox should leave Scutaro at the leadoff spot and let Ellsbury hit toward the bottom of the order. It will allow Ellsbury to become comfortable again at the plate. Instead of coming back and being the first guy at the plate, he can come in and hit in a non-pressure situation. He doesn't have to worry about getting on base in front of Dustin Pedroia and J.D. Drew. He just has to worry about getting on base.
What are your thoughts, Red Sox Nation? Has Scutaro been good enough to stay in the leadoff spot, or do you think the Red Sox need Ellsbury's spark at the top of the lineup?