BOSTON -- Manager Bobby Valentine was subtly and not so subtly laying the notion that a leadoff hitter matters before a 13-5 win over the Rays on Saturday, and that's not a stance he's alone in. Lead-off hitters, after all, are often the first batter of an just inning once a game.
Even in explaining what Mike Aviles brought to the leadoff spot in Jacoby Ellsbury's absence, Valentine tried to make the point that what Aviles brings to the top of the lineup, he brings anywhere in the lineup.
"Helping us as a leadoff hitter, Mike is a dangerous hitter," Valentine said. "If a pitcher gets careless, he can do damage. He's developing into an offensive player, really concentrating on his defense right now. I've seen him where, if he gets that pitch, possibly as a leadoff hitter, with those guys coming up next -- I don't know, we'll see if he gets that pitch -- and then he'll be a good leadoff hitter if he does."
Aviles got that pitch on Saturday. As, coincidentally, the first batter of the bottom of the seventh, Aviles drove an 0-1 breaking ball that came in low in the zone but down the pipe from Rays right-hander Burke Badenhop, elevating it just high enough to make it into the Green Monster seats for a 6-5 Sox lead.
Before and after the game, he said his swing approach would remain constant regardless of where he bats in Boston's lineup.
"No, I actually don't change my approach, regardless of where I'm hitting. I found that in the past when I changed my approach, I find myself 0-2 a lot quicker and I try to stay aggressive in the zone," Aviles said. "That's the only difference. Sometimes I'll be overly aggressive later in the lineup. In the top part of the lineup, I try to be aggressive in the zone and just try to bear down and see a pitch I know I can drive and really take advantage of it."
Aviles, who had 45 games of experience atop a big league lineup prior to Saturday, finished 3-for-5 with two runs scored and a double to go along with the homer.
The only downside to Saturday was when Aviles got picked off at first base after an infield single in the first.
"Michael had a very good game," Valentine said. "The bases loaded at-bat with a line drive to right was as good an at-bat he had the whole night. He was determined to do well and did a good job, no doubt."
This doesn't mean Aviles is the leadoff hitter until Ellsbury returns. Not yet, anyway. Valentine indicated some shuffling would occur as the team determines just how long Ellsbury is out with a right shoulder injury and how to cope.
"Definitely it's going to hurt us not having Ells in our lineup," said David Ortiz, who went 4-for-5 with five RBIs on Saturday. "Without him, of course, [we are] going to miss him a lot. But whenever we can come out and produce like we did today, we've got to take advantage of it."
Red Sox honor Pesky and longtime fan
BOSTON -- The Red Sox honored two of the wisest members of Red Sox Nation on Saturday afternoon, when Johnny Pesky was on hand 75 years to the day after he made his Major League debut at Fenway Park. Another man, Bill Hogan, celebrated his 100th birthday with a first pitch in the ballpark that's also celebrating its centennial this month.
Pesky, who managed and played for the Sox, is 92. The Sox presented him with Fenway Park-related gifts.
Hogan, a native Bostonian who was born on April 14, 1912, so much wanted to throw a good ceremonial pitch, he threw two. Mark Melancon caught them.
"I thought the second would be better," Hogan said. "But I'm delighted to have this night to thank me for the good Lord for leaving me here and to my great family and to the wonderful people that have renovated and fixed up this park."
Lin's first stay in Majors could be short-lived
BOSTON -- Che-Hsuan Lin's first day in the big leagues was Saturday, when he arrived at Fenway Park after leaving Triple-A Pawtucket on the road in Rochester, N.Y. Lin may need to soak it all in quickly, too, because the Red Sox's roster could change again as soon as Sunday, manager Bobby Valentine said.
"Could, yeah," Valentine said of a roster move coming Sunday. "Definitely could."
Lin provides insurance in center with Jacoby Ellsbury on the disabled list. Lin, 23, has played center in his six games with Pawtucket this season, going 3-for-20 with a double and a home run. He's known well for his glove, less so for his Minor League lifetime .256 average. Lin's been in the Red Sox's organization since June 2007, when he signed as an international free agent.
"I always like to think that people can help us," Valentine said. "I think this move is a little premature to say that he's ready to help us with the bat."
The Red Sox have been carrying 13 pitchers since the season started, and they were on the brink of reducing that number to 12 Saturday night, but Ellsbury's injury complicated matters, as did another set of circumstances Valentine only explained in tongues. Again, clarity could come Sunday.
"There was a situation that we were kind of waiting on that now has happened, so now we can move forward," Valentine said. "But there was a complicating situation that an injury complicated, so we decided to wait on this day with the day game and all. Actually, there was a complicated situation in the Minor Leagues that complicated the situation that was making things very complicated after Jacoby complicated it even more -- if you can imagine that. But that was it. We almost solved it about 1:30 last night, but we didn't."