Jason Bay will move a spot back in the lineup to fifth, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona says the switch is primarily to limit Mariners ace Felix Hernandez and is probably temporary.
“You don’t want to give Hernandez a run of righties because that’ll be a quick inning,” said Francona.
David Ortiz will slide up to the cleanup spot in Bay’s place.
Righties are hitting .219 with two home runs and 11 walks against Hernandez this season. Lefties are batting .245 with five homers and 22 walks.
Francona didn’t discount Bay’s recent struggles at the plate as part of the decision.
“Jason has had a tough time lately,” he said. “He hasn’t dealt with a slump since he’s been here. That’s why we like him so much.”
Bay batted just .230 with four home runs in June after hitting .288 with 15 home runs in the opening two months. Francona said Bay’s calm demeanor is unchanged during the slump.
“There’s nothing different about him. He’s never very loud. Maybe that will change with his newfound citizenship,” Francona joked.
Bay, a Canadian citizen, received American citizenship yesterday.
Daisuke Matsuzaka will begin playing catch from 60 feet today, the first ball-in-hand step in his rehab assignment.
Francona met with Matsuzaka today in a meeting that the manager said was very long and productive.
“He looks better,” said Francona. “Sometimes you just get fried and you need a break mentally.”
Matsuzaka worked out without throwing while the Red Sox were on their road trip. Matsuzaka will work closely with strength and conditioning coach David Paige and minor league pitching coordinator Glenn “Goose” Gregson in his recovery. His return still has no timetable.
“He worked hard while we were gone,” said Francona. “We probably have something in our heads as to a good time he could come back, but there is no date (for his return).”
Jed Lowrie will be the designated hitter for the Pawtucket Red Sox tonight. Francona anticipates that Lowrie might play shortstop this weekend, as well.
“It’s good news,” said Francona. “I would hope he could play some shortstop this weekend, but we’re not going to rush him.”