Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Boston Red Sox [Print without images]

Friday, May 9, 2014
Pedey sticks at leadoff; A.J. back in Texas

By Travis L. Brown | Special to ESPNBoston.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- When John Farrell approached second baseman Dustin Pedroia about moving up to the leadoff spot indefinitely, the Red Sox manager was met with no reservations by the veteran.

"Dustin is all about what we are as a team and doing whatever he can to best suit our needs and to impact the game in a positive way," Farrell said. "He's the ultimate unselfish player. Given our need, he's more than open for doing it."

Since the move in the final days of April, Pedroia has become the main catalyst for Boston's offensive production, Farrell said.

Pedroia has seen 67 at-bats this season in the leadoff spot, batting .269.

More importantly, Pedroia has found his way onto base by any means possible, drawing 10 walks as part of a .364 on-base percentage.

This weekend's series will be the first time for Pedroia to face the Texas Ranger's pitching staff at the leadoff position, as he batted in the 2-hole for all three of the teams' games in Boston in early April.

The different approach could provide a spark that was not present early in the season series against the Rangers, as he hit just .143 with a double and an RBI.

"Given the personnel we have, he's the one true, legitimate candidate among the group to, not only get on base, but to do some things to set the table for not only [Shane Victorino] behind him but David [Ortiz] and Mike [Napoli]. He's the guy for us," Farrell said.

• Catcher A.J. Pierzynski returns to Texas for the first time after spending all of last season with the Rangers.

He said it was good to be back and see some familiar faces, but wished some of the Rangers players currently on the DL, such as pitcher Derek Holland, were around to catch up.

As far as facing former teammate Yu Darvish (2-1, 2.87) Friday night, Pierzynski said catching the Rangers' ace doesn't necessarily give him an inside edge.

"I obviously know what he's got, but I've faced a lot of guys I've caught before and it hasn't been an advantage or a disadvantage," he said. "It all depends on the certain day and what he has going today."

• Farrell said, despite the Red Sox having off days on Thursday and last Monday, he will keep the same pitching rotation.

Boston is tied for Oakland for the AL lead in quality starts with 23, which is the Red Sox's most through 34 games of the season since 1952.

In the past eight games, the rotation has allowed 14 earned runs for a 2.42 ERA, which is good enough for third in the majors during that time span.

"It's a testament to their abilities, particularly their work ethic, and the program our medical staff has in place for them," Farrell said of his rotation's consistency.

• A win Friday would be a huge boost for the Red Sox's season.

Not only would it bring them a game above .500, it would mark Boston's first winning streak longer than two games this season.

It could be a big weekend for designated hitter David Ortiz, who has 16 doubles, 18 homers and 44 RBIs in 52 career games in Arlington.

Also, the Sox could advance their 223-216 all-time record against the Rangers and improve the 90-128 all-time record Boston has in Arlington.