The Red Sox rolled out an unusual lineup on this Marathon Monday.
With illness going through the clubhouse and Andrew Benintendi dealing with a sore foot, regular catcher Christian Vazquez was making his first career start at second base.
An original lineup posted at 8:01 a.m. this morning included Vazquez at catcher, Blake Swihart in left field and Dustin Pedroia at second base.
But at 9:24 a.m., the Red Sox updated the lineup and moved Pedroia out of second base and into the designated hitter spot, leading to questions about whether or not Pedroia’s left knee was acting up again.
“We have to take care of him,” manager Alex Cora said without mentioning what sparked the lineup change after 83 minutes. “I mean, we have a program, we have to be disciplined. We were pushing him to play second but it doesn’t make sense. Something happens today with him and then it’s on us. So the only thing we can do is DH him and keep him off his feet as much as possible and push him so far. It’s a tough start. It’s tough conditions.”
For reasons Cora chose not to mention, Eduardo Nunez was unavailable to start, but available off the bench. That created an opening at second base for Vazquez, who has never made a major league start at any position other than catcher and DH.
“If there’s a ground ball, I’m going to block it, so, I’ve got a cup,” Vazquez joked. “Don’t worry.”
Vazquez played first base late in the 18-inning game during the World Series. He’s previously made a few big league appearances at third base and has one minor league appearance at second base.
“Christian always takes ground balls at third, he takes ground balls at second, at first, he does it because of his routine as a catcher,” Cora said. “Something he’s seen from Yadi Molina. Yadi does that, turning double plays for his footwork so I think he maybe he won’t say it but knowing where Yadi is from (Puerto Rico) and where Christian is from, he learned a little bit from your peers. We’re comfortable with him. His baseball IQ is good too. It wouldn’t surprise me if he turns a few double plays and throws behind a runner or something like that. He’s very excited to play.”
Steve Pearce was making his first start at left field since joining the Red Sox last season.
“These are the days that you really enjoy being a manager,” Cora said. “It’s a challenge and, hey, we’re ready to play. Hector Velazquez is throwing the ball well. We swung the bats well yesterday and we’ll be fine.”
Jackie Bradley Jr. remains out with an illness but Cora joked that Bradley lives across the street and could be summoned off the bench, if necessary.
“There’s a few people sick or they’re banged up,” the manager said. “Trying to stay away from certain guys and this is what we have.”