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Francona tinkering with Opening Day lineup

Francona tinkering with Opening Day lineup

Francona tinkering with Opening Day lineup
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona knows what his Opening Day lineup should be, more or less. He just doesn't know what his lineup should be on Boston's actual Opening Day.

The Red Sox open up the 2011 season in Texas on April 1 at 4:05 p.m. ET, and the Rangers are expected to start lefty C.J. Wilson. More than most southpaws, Wilson's always held left-handed hitters in check, to the tune of a .181 average.

So although Francona knows he wants the left-handed-hitting Jacoby Ellsbury, who's at .429 this spring, to bat leadoff regularly, he's considering batting him ninth against Wilson.

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"That's the one thing I guess that's been messing with me a little bit," Francona said. "Because, normally that's a guy [Wilson] that you would maybe do something with. But it's Opening Day, so I don't know how I feel about that."

The rest of the lineup shouldn't be a surprise. Dustin Pedroia and Carl Crawford will likely bat second and third, and Kevin Youkilis and Adrian Gonzalez would likely bat fourth and fifth, but both sets are interchangeable. Crawford could easily bat third and Pedroia second, and Youkilis could bat fifth and Gonzalez fourth.

"This next 10 days, you'll see our lineup at some home games probably," Francona said. "Two or three, four times, I'd say."

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