Drew to bat in five-hole for Red Sox
Lowell or Bay will follow right fielder in Francona's lineup
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There is just one decision left for Red Sox manager Terry Francona when it comes to the alignment of his starting nine. Will Mike Lowell or Jason Bay bat sixth?
The first five spots are set, with Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and J.D. Drew.
Though Bay and Lowell both have track records that would make them more than suitable in the No. 5 hole, Drew is going to occupy that spot because of his left-handed bat.
In fact, the Red Sox can go left-right in those first five spots, and it isn't until Lowell and Bay -- whichever order they are in -- where there will be some repetitiveness.
"I think having the left-handed hitter [fifth] is somewhat useful," Francona said. "For me, right now, J.D. is healthy, we have Mikey Lowell and Bay who we can hit sixth and seventh. In my opinion, neither one is a typical [No. 7] hitter, but somebody is going to have to. We'll figure it out. We have a chance for a pretty balanced, good lineup."
Coming off right hip surgery, Lowell has mostly responded well, though he's yet to be fully tested on the basepaths.
"The only thing for me right now that he's lacking is some speed," Francona said. "There's only so much you can simulate in Spring Training. When the season starts and all of a sudden you're trying to go first to third and score ... we'll keep an eye on him."
Short hops: Clay Buchholz, who has an 0.47 ERA this spring, will make his final Grapefruit League start on Tuesday against the Rays. The Red Sox will soon reveal whether he will be able to make the April 12 start in Anaheim. If Buchholz gets the start, it will be because Boston decided to give Brad Penny a little more time to get stretched out. Penny is scheduled to pitch Thursday against the Twins. ... Tim Wakefield pitched in a Minor League game back in Fort Myers, Fla., on Monday, giving up five hits and five runs, including three homers, over five innings. Wakefield threw 94 pitches. ... Catcher Jason Varitek has recovered nicely from a slow start at the plate. The captain has six hits in his last 17 at-bats, including three homers and seven RBIs. Varitek leads the team with 12 RBIs. ... With not enough innings to go around in the late stages of camp, Takashi Saito and Hideki Okajima will throw in a Minor League game on Tuesday. ... One of the Minor League extras on Monday's trip was outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin, the Most Valuable Player of the Futures Game last July at Yankee Stadium. Lin batted ninth and played right field. "The only thing I really know is that they say he's some kind of defensive player," Francona said. "I'm kind of looking forward to watching him play. They say he's really good athlete. It will be fun to watch." Lin notched a third-inning single in the Red Sox's 4-3 loss to the Braves.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.