Nava's hot start keeps Bradley on bench

Nava's hot start keeps Bradley on bench

BOSTON -- Manager John Farrell typically does more homework than he needs to, so Farrell was well aware Daniel Nava has just one hit with seven strikeouts in 15 at-bats against David Price, the scheduled starter for the Rays on Saturday afternoon.

Farrell just didn't care as he penciled in Nava's name as the starting left fielder, batting sixth.

When it comes to overall productivity at the plate, Nava may be the best on the Red Sox right now. Against lefties, against righties, Farrell wants the switch-hitting Nava in the lineup.

"We look at everyone's matchups as part of the decision making," Farrell said. "We've talked about how confident Daniel is right now. At some point in this game, the ability to break up those right-handers is going to be needed without too much pinch-hitting or emptying the bench to strictly match up. That's where Daniel is in the middle of this.

"I realize he's 1-for-15 coming into today against Price, but, I think, overall, he's put up very good at-bats as consistently as anyone in our lineup on both sides of the plate."

Nava has collected a hit in all six games he's played in this year, scoring five runs, homering three times and driving in eight runs. He's hitting .421 with a .520 on-base percentage.

"We'll ride it as long as we're capable of," Farrell said.

Meanwhile, 22-year-old outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who has made just three starts this week, will again be on the bench. While the Red Sox had originally said they only wanted their No. 2 prospect in the Majors if he had the opportunity to play every day, Nava's hot bat has forced the manager's hand.

"It is a balance," Farrell said. "Going up against a guy like Price or [Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen], with some of the recent developments with Jackie over the last three or four days, we still want to put the most competitive lineup we can on the field.

"We're not here to say there are roster changes that are going to take place just because Jackie's not playing for the second time in four days. That's not what we're here about. We'll continue to find the right combinations, and that would include Jackie in different scenarios as well."

Jason Mastrodonato is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @jmastrodonato. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.