Notes: Crisp moves to No. 2 hole
Francona has faith scuffling center fielder will turn it around
TORONTO -- Not only was the badly slumping Coco Crisp back in the lineup Tuesday night after getting a day off, but he was batting second.
Though the main reason for Crisp's jump from eighth to second was because Red Sox manager Terry Francona wanted Kevin Youkilis hitting fifth on a day J.D. Drew was off, it was nonetheless a show of faith in the center fielder.
Crisp entered Tuesday's action hitting .111 with two runs, no homers, three RBIs and one stolen base in 36 at-bats.
Francona was asked what a fair number of at-bats would be to make a concrete evaluation on a player.
"I'm not sure it matters," said Francona. "[The media] can make the judgments if somebody is struggling right now. Whether they are or not, it doesn't change anything. If it changes, you can really make mistakes.
"Coco is a good example. He's really scuffling. If we take him out of the lineup and he has the ability to get hot, we're not going to see it. That would be my mistake."
During the World Series championship season of 2004, Francona encountered similar decisions with Kevin Millar and Mark Bellhorn. The manager stuck with both players and was eventually rewarded.
The next year, the same two players never could seem to get in a groove, but the front office acquired John Olerud and Tony Graffanino during the season to make up for the lack of production.
Francona's point is that he'll always err on the side of patience and give his mainstay players every possible chance before pulling the plug.
"Part of doing what we're doing is to be patient," said Francona. "What do they say? If you manage like a fan, you end up being a fan? That's a good way to put it."
Drew's day off: Why was Drew out of the lineup, considering the Red Sox were rained out on Thursday and Sunday? The reason was two-fold. The first was Francona's desire to get back-to-back starts for Wily Mo Pena. The other was to keep Drew's legs off artificial turf three straight days.
"I told J.D. the other day," said Francona. "Again, this isn't the old turf that used to be up here. But when you're not used to it, I know after three days, we'll have some guys, their back will be [a little stiff]. It's different."
The fact that lefty Gustavo Chacin was pitching for the Jays also made it a good opportunity to get Pena's right-handed bat in there.
"J.D. is a good hitter. J.D. can hit anybody," said Francona. "Pick a spot for Wily Mo. Wily Mo came out and hit extra today and really swung it good. Maybe it will carry over into the game. That would be the hope."
Tavarez's tune-up: Julian Tavarez is seeing every way to combat the rust of having his last two scheduled days to pitch postpone by inclement weather. Tavarez came in early on Tuesday and threw a simulated game in preparation for his start on Thursday against the Jays.
That start will come after 11 days of rest. However, Tavarez has tried not to get restless.
"If you want the time to go fast, you can't control it," said Tavarez. "Just take it day by day. Just do my little things -- my running and my long-toss."
He thinks Tuesday's session was beneficial.
"It can help a lot," Tavarez said. "You're facing hitters. You can use all your pitches and keep your arm relaxed and loose. If you get lazy and don't throw, it's going to get stiff. I don't want that."
Controlled climate: The roof covering Rogers Centre was perhaps the most welcoming sight the Red Sox have seen thus far this season. After the bone-chilling temperatures of Kansas City and Texas on the opening road trip and soggy and cold weather in Boston, this was just what the doctor ordered.
"That is tremendous," Francona said. "We've had some elements. I think this is the first day I remember not being miserable. Kansas City was terrible, Texas was terrible. Then we went back home, it's been cold. We caught snow in Texas. It's been a grind."
The manager was not surprised to see how much of a decline there has been in offensive numbers throughout baseball early this season.
"That's why I thought I was impressed with how we responded against the Angels," Francona said. "It was not easy to play. We all say the same thing, you can't use it as an excuse. But it's hard. It's very difficult."
Lester progressing: Jon Lester's third start for Class A Greenville turned into a simulated game after some lineup card complications made him ineligible the day he was supposed to pitch. Instead of taking the ball on Sunday, Lester instead threw 75 pitches against teammates on Monday. He has one more start at Greenville, at which point the Red Sox will re-evaluate his program.
Conventional wisdom is that he'd get at least a couple of more tune-ups at Double-A Portland or Triple-A Pawtucket before returning to the Major Leagues.
"We have a pretty good idea [of his program]," Francona said. "But we always want to speak with him. There's no reason to speak to him until he gets through what he's doing."
On deck: Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (1-1, 1.38 ERA) will try to make it three solid starts in a row when he pitches in the middle game of this series against the Blue Jays on Wednesday night. Wakefield will be opposed by former teammate Tomo Ohka. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.