Yes, the Adam LaRoche era has officially begun.
One day after taking in his first game with the Sox from the bench, the newly acquired first baseman was slotted seventh in Francona's batting order on Saturday. The presence of LaRoche, who admitted to being a "little bit nervous" before the contest against the Orioles, allowed Francona to spell a "beat-up" Youkilis for a night.
Saturday's lineup shuffle figures to be the first of many going forward as Francona attempts to juggle the usage of LaRoche, third baseman Mike Lowell and Youkilis.
"This isn't going to be a set rotation," Francona said. "Youk is our first baseman/third baseman, kind of like Happy Gilmore. When we have guys here that can play, we'll try to take advantage of it the best we can."
LaRoche and Youkilis said their playing time has not been discussed in detail with Francona.
"All Tito's really said is that we don't know right now," LaRoche said. "I told him I'm fine with whatever he decides. I understand it's kind of a unique situation. I'm guessing I'll know more in a week or two [about] how it's going to play out.
"I've never been in this situation before. I'm used to going out, playing every day and getting an occasional off-day. It could be reversed now, but I'll take that tradeoff to be in this situation."
"You guys know just as much as I do," Youkilis told reporters. "We haven't really discussed it much. They just told me [Saturday] is my off-day."
After years of admiring the Fenway Park atmosphere from afar, LaRoche expressed eagerness to take the field as a member of the Red Sox for the first time.
"I'm very excited to get out there, to say the least," LaRoche said. "It was good, as much as I wanted to have played [on Friday], it was nice to just kind of sit and get used to things a little bit."
On Saturday, LaRoche knew he was about to be thrust into an environment like none he'd experienced before.
"It felt like a playoff game [on Friday night]," LaRoche said. "That's what everybody says about this place, that every game is a playoff atmosphere. I can't imagine what it's going to feel like when the playoffs actually hit."
LaRoche capped the Red Sox's scoring in Saturday's 7-2 win by launching a two-run homer in the eighth inning off Orioles reliever Mark Hendrickson.
John Barone is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.