Sizemore bats fifth in Lackey's final tuneup

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Good evening from the Fort, where talk of Opening Day has intensified and where the first of a three-game spring training series against the crosstown Minnesota Twins is underway at JetBlue Park.

The team's first of two truckloads of supplies and luggage departed Fort Myers on Thursday, with the second one set to follow after Saturday's spring finale.

Outfielder Shane Victorino started in a minor league game earlier today and went 3-for-6 with a stolen base. He is slated to play in a Grapefruit League game at 1:05 p.m. Friday at Hammond Stadium against the Twins, facing right-handed pitcher Phil Hughes.

The Red Sox are facing Twins right-hander Kevin Correia tonight. Daniel Nava is leading off. Grady Sizemore, who leads the Red Sox with 10 leadoff appearances this spring training, is batting fifth, which is the more likely spot for him when the regular season begins, manager John Farrell clarified today.

Nava ranks second in leadoff appearances this spring with eight, including tonight, and likely will be in that role Monday in Baltimore. Jackie Bradley Jr. (seven times) and Jonny Gomes (three times) also have hit leadoff this spring training.

"I think we'll probably see him in the five to six range in the lineup, initially," Farrell said of Sizemore. "Again, we want to take advantage of Nava's on-base ability. I'm not going to say that Grady is never going to lead off."

Nava has a career on-base percentage of .369, including a career-best .385 last season. Nava hit from the leadoff spot just eight times last season. Jacoby Ellsbury's departure to the New York Yankees forced Farrell to find a new option.

"When you look at those top spots in the lineup, we believe on-base percentage is important," Farrell said. "And we also factor in if it were to be Grady, to have the potential of having one more at-bat every single night, how that accumulating effect would affect him."

Farrell has yet to name Sizemore to the 25-man roster. That might happen Friday. Should Sizemore make the team, Victorino also would see playing time in center field, Farrell said.

Nava played six innings in center field for Triple-A Pawtucket on Wednesday and went 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs.

John Lackey is making his final spring start Thursday night. He enters with a 1-1 record and 9.49 ERA in three starts.

The Red Sox have 35 players in camp, including five non-roster invitees. That number will change after tonight's game, but not to the final 25 just yet, Farrell said.

"There will be an announcement a little bit later today," Farrell said. "We've had a number of things going on today, so we're not completely done with all of the individual meetings with some players. By the end of today, we should have some moves announced."

Farrell also revealed the worst-kept secret the team has had in that Jon Lester will start on Opening Day against the Baltimore Orioles.

"Oh yes," Farrell said. "Jon Lester is starting. And the world is round. So he starts Monday."

Farrell said he first noticed Lester's potential to be a front-line starter in 2005. That season, Lester went 11-6 with a 2.61 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Portland. Farrell was working for the Cleveland Indians as their minor league director.

"I think he was 20 years old," Farrell said of Lester, who was actually 21. "He had size and stuff. With a one-game look, you don't know what's going on inside with the work ethic or all of those types of things. But that was my first time seeing him."

Here are tonight's starting lineups:


1. 2B Brian Dozier

2. 1B Joe Mauer

3. RF Oswaldo Arcia

4. DH Josh Willingham

5. LF Jason Kubel

6. 3B Trevor Plouffe

7. C Kurt Suzuki

8. CF Aaron Hicks

9. SS Pedro Florimon

RHP Kevin Correia


1. LF Daniel Nava

2. 2B Dustin Pedroia

3. DH David Ortiz

4. 1B Mike Napoli

5. CF Grady Sizemore

6. SS Xander Bogaerts

7. C A.J. Pierzynski

8. 3B Will Middlebrooks

9. RF Jackie Bradley Jr.

RHP John Lackey