We're less than two weeks from Opening Day, but Red Sox manager John Farrell hasn't been entirely forthcoming about his lineup construction just yet. Oh, sure, there have been hints here and there -- Shane Victorino will move around in the lineup depending on the pitcher's handedness, for example -- but nothing concrete.
Well, we still don't have anything concrete, but further hints have been dropped. For one, Farrell sees outfielder Daniel Nava as the team's number two hitter against right-handed pitchers. This is significant for a few reasons: first, it means Dustin Pedroia isn't the number two batter against righties, meaning he's likely bolstering the middle of the order in those games. Second, it means Nava is that much more likely to make the Opening Day roster, something that, to this point, was in question given that he has an option remaining while other outfielders in the mix do not. Last, it means -- at least while Jonny Gomes is filling in for David Ortiz at designated hitter -- that Nava is the club's primary left fielder.
Nava is a switch-hitter, but has been much better against righties, whom he owns a .369 career on-base percentage against in the majors, and hit .324/.424/.577 against in limited duty at Pawtucket in 2012. He's a lesser hitter against lefties, but that's what Jonny Gomes and his career OPS of nearly 900 against southpaws is for in the games where Ortiz is around. Plus, the aforementioned Victorino can move up to the second slot in the lineup against lefties, too, keeping the Red Sox from losing an advantage atop the lineup regardless of pitcher handedness.
The second hint dropped by Farrell regards Jackie Bradley, whom Farrell does not see as a left fielder. This likely means that if Bradley does come to the majors, it will be in right field, pushing Victorino to left, and giving the Red Sox a ridiculous defensive alignment. Victorino's weakness at this point is that his range isn't quite what it used to be, but it should still be enough for right at Fenway. Give him even less room to have to cover in left, while flanking Jacoby Ellsbury with the defensively impressive Bradley in right, and baby you've got a stew going.
Hopefully, this isn't a hint of Bradley coming up prior to accruing the 11 days of service time in the minors that will give the Red Sox an extra year of team control. Given the good news with Nava, though, we'll assume the best on that until told otherwise. After all, that's typically how the Red Sox handle things with the kids -- even the possibly great ones -- anyway.