ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Red Sox manager John Farrell rolled out his 38th different batting order in 47 games Friday night against the Tampa Bay Rays, but indicated that restoring what was the heart of the order in 2013 -- Dustin Pedroia No. 3, David Ortiz cleanup, Mike Napoli No. 5 -- may have some permanency to it.
Third baseman Brock Holt, who led off on April 21 against the Orioles and went 2-for-4 with a sacrifice fly, was back in the top spot Friday night, followed by rookie Xander Bogaerts, who hit in the 2-spot in four straight games in mid-April (3-for-14, HR) but was subsequently dropped lower in the order.
Bogaerts hit regularly in the 2-hole in the minors last season, and has been the team's hottest hitter of late, reaching base in each of the team's last 10 games (.378/.425/.676 slash line, with three doubles, two home runs and a triple). He is batting .500 (9-for-18) in his last five games. Napoli, who had two hits and a walk Tuesday night against Toronto, had missed the last two games of the Jays' series with flu-like symptoms. "It came on me quick," he said, "And it hit like a ton of bricks."
With Pedroia slotted third and Ortiz and Napoli dropped back a spot apiece, Farrell said the Sox succeed in lengthening their lineup, which he hopes will help rejuvenate an offense that scored a total of 13 runs on the recently completed homestand and posted a .228/.281/.332/.613 slash line while losing all six games in the Fens, extending their current losing streak to seven games.
The Sox held a lead in just one of 54 innings while at home. They had lost only six times after taking a lead (15-5 when they score first), and are 18-1 in games in which they've led by two runs.
Farrell noted that it was just a couple of days ago that he was praising Pedroia's performance as leadoff man, but now says he may use Bogaerts as leadoff man against left-handers, with Shane Victorino batting second and Pedroia third.
"It runs counter to our intent to create continuity," Farrell said of the frequent lineup shuffling. "That has been hard and frustrating to get to, because of some of the inconsistencies we've experienced."
The 5-hole in the lineup has been one of the team's most unstable, as Farrell has cycled six players through that spot.
A couple of other notes:
• Right-hander Brandon Workman was scratched from his start for Pawtucket on Friday, Farrell said, giving the Sox the option of summoning him to start here Sunday in place of the disabled Felix Doubront. Allen Webster, who is scheduled to start Sunday for the PawSox, is another possibility, but Workman would appear to be the nominee to come here.
• Left-hander Doubront (shoulder strain) has begun some light tossing.
• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks remained back in Boston. He underwent additional testing, Farrell said, to measure how much healing has taken place in the avulsion fracture of his left index finger.
• Reliever Burke Badenhop has not allowed an earned run in his last 18 1/3 innings.