BOSTON (CBS) – With Jacoby Ellsbury slumping at the top of the Red Sox order, it might be time for manager John Farrell to make a change.
That change could be coming sooner rather than later, but the team will give Ellsbury his fair chance to get out of the slump that has plagued him for much of the first quarter of the season.
“I’ve consider it yes, but we’re sticking with him giving him the opportunity to get out of the situation he is in now,” Farrell said prior to Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss in Chicago. “But I can say this: Whether he’s hitting first or hitting somewhere else in the lineup, there are still things we have to address and he has to address, and those are ongoing.”
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Ellsbury went 1-for-3 on Tuesday night with a single and a walk, boosting his season batting average to .242. For the month of May, the Sox leadoff man is batting just .185 (15-for-81) with eight walks, good for a .267 OBP. Ellsbury has just two extra base hits in 19 games this month, and just 12 for the season.
“He’s in a situation where he’s working to do what he can to get out of this, and we’re working there with him. This isn’t a matter of effort, it’s a matter of maybe being a little more free of mind and letting that natural ability take over,” said Farrell.
The Red Sox were expecting big things from Ellsbury at the top of their lineup this season, especially with him facing free agency in the off-season. Should this be a season-long slump it could cost Ellsbury quite a bit of money when he heads to the negotiating tables with agent Scott Boras, but Farrell doesn’t think off-season plans are what’s getting in Ellsbury’s way right now.
“To say that’s the sole reason, no, I wouldn’t say that’s the issue that he’s dealing with right now,” said Farrell. “I also know that he’s human, and he understands where he’s at in his career and what’s ahead of him. But the point we continually try to make is the routine of today is the most important point and that’s the focal point.”
Farrell said the discussions of moving Ellsbury in the lineup are ongoing, but Boston doesn’t have many options at leadoff. Shane Victorino would be a likely candidate to take over for Ellsbury, but he is dealing with a hamstring issue that kept him out of Tuesday’s loss. Victorino has missed three of the last five games, missing two games in Minnesota over the weekend with bask spasms.
Dustin Pedroia is another candidate, with 320 career at-bats at leadoff. Pedroia has only hit .253 with a .318 OBP from the one-spot, but has scored 51 runs and 39 of his 81 hits have gone for extra bases in the small sample.
So, for now at least, Ellsbury will remain atop the Boston lineup.