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Hole new game at plate for Renteria

TORONTO -- If it's any consolation, Edgar, Orlando Cabrera started his Red Sox career 3 for 25.

About all you can do is give this guy a big hug. He's struggling out of the gate, big-time. After catching a reprieve Wednesday in New York when he stroked two hits and knocked in two runs off Mariano Rivera in the ninth inning, Edgar Renteria put up an 0 for 4 and left seven runners on base (three in scoring postion) in the Red Sox' 6-5 victory over the Blue Jays last night.

Teammates are encouraging him and giving him a "hang in there," but he probably feels like hiding under a rock.

Renteria is 2 for 17 this young season, hitting .118. He's hit into four double plays. He booted Alex Rodriguez's made-to-order double-play grounder in Game 2 in New York, which led to a three-run inning.

Renteria is one of the best shortstops in the game and he was supposed to be an upgrade over Cabrera. He was the luxury item general manager Theo Epstein probably didn't need, but was able to sell to his owners.

There are so many things at work here.

Renteria is coming into a new league, getting used to new playing surfaces where he doesn't quite know the bounces. He's a quiet guy on a team of "Idiots."

Boston is a tough place to play for a quiet and private guy such as Renteria, a far cry from playing in a quiet, midwestern city such as St. Louis, where there's passion, but not the intensity of Boston.

It takes a lot of getting used to.

You can make a thousand excuses, but Renteria doesn't want to hear any of them.

When he botched Rodriguez's grounder, he stood at his locker and 'fessed up. Renteria, after all, is a star player, not your run-of-the-mill shortstop. He is a top-shelf player who has won the last two Gold Gloves in the National League, and has a .289 career batting average. He's also been a four-time All-Star.

Renteria had a few chances to break last night's game open. He had a chance with two on and two outs in the first, but he flied to left. He had the bases loaded, nobody out in the sixth and grounded to the pitcher. He made the final out of the seventh with two runners on.

The Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome, was a place where he loved to hit. He was 8 for 13 here entering last night's game.

The Red Sox are certainly protecting him. They don't want him to get out of sorts. Hitting coach Ron Jackson was scheduled to take Renteria into the batting cage this morning in an attempt to open up his stance.

"I wouldn't say he's struggling," Jackson said. "If he was struggling he'd be striking out a lot, not hitting the ball at all. He's playing good defense. He got a couple of big hits in the Yankee game on Wednesday. I'm telling you, he works so hard. He's always working on something. It's a little different for him here because he's hitting sixth, more of a power position. He's used to hitting second."

He's gotten plenty of encouragement. Manny Ramirez has offered him the "don't worry, be happy" approach.

"It's just four games," Ramirez said. "Who cares? He'll be fine. Just go out there and play and have fun. No reason to worry about anything. Just let your talent come out."

David Ortiz told Renteria, "you've got two different jobs. If you're not hitting, then you've got to do the job with the glove. He's a smart player. We're going to see a very good player there."

Interim manager Brad Mills said he's not worried about Renteria because, "I like his approach." Mills thought Renteria was coming out of it in New York, but Mills said last night Renteria looked as he did earlier in the Yankee series. We remember Cabrera after the trading deadline deal and how lost and unhappy he looked until he got up to speed.

Which is why Renteria will get his big "Papa Jack" tutelage today. It's where he will be asked to change his stance, in the hopes, this will be the last story written about his poor start.

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