Valentine: Ciriaco makes sense in leadoff slot

Valentine: Ciriaco makes sense in leadoff slot

BOSTON -- Pedro Ciriaco played his 15th game as the Red Sox's leadoff hitter on Friday night against the Orioles, and yet manager Bobby Valentine couldn't put his finger on the reasons why.

Ciriaco has drawn just six walks in 65 games this season -- the lowest walk total of any Major League player with at least 220 plate appearances -- but Valentine says Ciriaco just makes sense in the first spot.

"With this mix, I just think it's a good blend of our talents to have him there," Valentine said.

While Ciriaco's .313 on-base percentage leaves much to be desired, he has continued to produce quality at-bats and carried a .294 average into Friday's game. As a leadoff hitter, he boasts a .316 average and has scored 12 runs in 14 games.

Perhaps more impressive, Ciriaco has stolen 15 bases and has yet to be caught. Valentine said he's given him the green light to steal whenever he feels appropriate.

There's little question that Ciriaco has done well out of the spot, but it's a testament to Valentine's managing style that he would use a player with one of the lowest walk rates in the entire league out of the top spot in the batting order.