ICYMI: Boston Red Sox Planning For Unexpected Role For Masataka Yoshida

When the Boston Red Sox went out and paid (some would say over-paid) Japanese star Masataka Yoshida this offseason, it was expected that, with his on-base and hit-tool talents, he would naturally be installed as the leadoff hitter. But not so fast. 

It appears that the Red Sox are now not planning to bat Yoshida leadoff on any type of regular basis. In fact, based on comments and actions from manager Alex Cora thus far, he'll be settling in as the cleanup hitter. 

“Our main goal is to keep Raffy (Rafael Devers) and Yoshida split up,” Cora said. “And try to keep Raffy in the second spot.”

So doing a little deductive reasoning, if the goal is to have the team's best hitter, Devers, in the 2nd spot in the order, and to have the two big left-handed hitters split up, then cleanup is the only conclusion to consider as to where Yoshida would be batting. And sure enough, that's where he was in the first two Grapefruit League games.

“This whole thing about Yoshida leading off, I don’t know (where that came from),” Cora said. “If I mentioned it, I didn’t mean to. He might lead off (occasionally), but he might hit in the middle of the lineup. That’s what he’s done his whole career. … I’m pretty sure with Raffy, it’s either second or fourth. Yoshida, maybe fourth or leadoff. I’m starting to have a better feel for those guys.”

As Cora intimated, Yoshida has not been a leadoff hitter in his career in Japan, he was a middle-of-the-order bat. 

Cora also suggested that new DH Justin Turner will be following Devers in the lineup, and will likely be batting 3rd. 

Photo: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports