Valentine searching for leadoff hitter

Valentine searching for leadoff hitter

Valentine searching for leadoff hitter
ST. PETERSBURG -- Though the Red Sox entered Wednesday night second in the American League with 199 runs, manager Bobby Valentine is still trying to figure out who should replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury in the leadoff spot.

Mike Aviles did it for 23 games, but Ryan Sweeney has hit leadoff in the last six games he's started, including Wednesday night.

In those five games, Sweeney hit .174 (4-for-23) with two RBIs and a .208 on-base percentage.

Before moving to leadoff, Sweneey was hitting .355 with a .384 on-base percentage.

Sweeney isn't a big fan of batting first.

"[I'm] not sure he's feeling comfortable at the leadoff spot. I'm not totally comfortable putting him there," Valentine said.

The manager wonders if Sweeney might just be having a natural slump that anyone has after a hot start.

"When you haven't had a lot of success doing something, it's an easy pit to fall into -- saying that there's a reason and when you're hitting .380 and you get down to .320 and it happens to coincide with the time that you're moved somewhere in the order, it's a real simple deduction to make, rather than saying, 'Hey, I'm a .320 hitter and now I'm right where I'm supposed to be, so keep doing it,'" Valentine said. "But I get it -- I totally get it. I've lived it with him and I resisted it at the beginning, as you all know."

How much is Valentine thinking about who should lead off?

"Every minute," Valentine said.

One man who could become a very good option if he keeps hitting is Daniel Nava, who is hitting .533 since being promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket last week.

"Of course, because when a guy has a .700 on-base percentage, I think that's a really good place for him to be," Valentine said.

Asked if Nava might lead off Thursday night against lefty Matt Moore, Valentine said he didn't think so.