Alex Cora hints at how he will construct top of Red Sox lineup for 2023 season
With 10 days to go until Opening Day, Alex Cora already has a few regulars penciled into set spots in Boston’s lineup.
With just 10 days to go until Opening Day, the Red Sox’ lineup for the 2023 season is starting to take shape.
Even though there are still more decisions that need to be made further down the batting order, Alex Cora offered some insight on Sunday into how he will structure the heart of Boston’s lineup on most nights.
According to Alex Speier of The Boston Globe, Cora plans on slotting Rafael Devers into the No. 2 spot, followed by Justin Turner at No. 3 and Masataka Yoshida tabbed as the cleanup hitter.
As for Boston’s leadoff role, Cora added that it could be a “mix-and-match” assignment.
Even though he projects as more of a middle-of-the-order bat due to his power, Triston Casas has seen some reps at the leadoff spot this spring.
Much like how Boston utilized Kyle Schwarber in a similar role in 2021, the Sox might value Casas’ patient approach at the plate at the top of the lineup, especially if he can set the table for the team’s top slugger in Devers.
Kiké Hernandez and Christian Arroyo are other candidates for leadoff duties, especially against left-handed pitching.
Given his impressive plate discipline and high contact rate in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (80 walks, 41 strikeouts in 508 plate appearances last season), Yoshida was once projected as a potential leadoff candidate for Boston.
But Cora pushed back against that notion early into spring training.
“This whole thing about Yoshida leading off, I don’t know [how it started],” Cora told reporters, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “If I mentioned it, I didn’t mean to. He might lead off, but he might hit in the middle of the lineup.
“That’s what he’s done his whole career. So I think it’s about personnel and who we have. … “My main goal is to keep [Rafael Devers] and Yoshida split up and try to keep Raffy in the second spot,” Cora added. “That would be great.”
Yoshida has looked the part as Team Japan’s cleanup hitter during the World Baseball Classic. So far in the tournament, Yoshida is batting .400 (6-for-15) with a home run, double, 10 RBI, two walks and no strikeouts.
The 38-year-old Turner has spent a solid portion of his career (540 games) batting third in the lineup, slashing .299/.382/.494 with 90 homers, 307 runs and 301 RBI over 2,313 plate appearances from the No. 3 spot.
Turner, who took a pitch to the face during Grapefruit League action two weeks ago, was back in Boston’s lineup for Monday’s spring-training tuneup against the Pirates.
“It felt good,” Turner told NESN’s Tom Caron after he was pulled from Monday’s game. “When something like that happens, my instincts are I want to get back in there as soon as possible, but obviously had to do some stuff, pass some tests and make sure I was OK to get back in there. But feels good to be back on the field.”
Source: Boston Globe
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