Red Sox lineup: Michael Chavis batting leadoff in first start of season against Orioles

Fresh off getting recalled from Triple-A Worcester on Friday, Michael Chavis will bat leadoff for the Red Sox in his first start of the 2021 season against the Orioles at Camden Yards on Saturday.

The Sox called up Chavis, who was on the team’s taxi squad, from the WooSox after placing utilityman Enrique Hernandez on the 10-day injured list due to a right hamstring strain.

Chavis will get the start at second base while hitting out of the leadoff spot for Boston, marking just the fifth time in his big-league career he has done so.

In four previous attempts — all of which came during his rookie season in 2019 — the 25-year-old went a collective 5-for-18 (.278) to go along with two home runs, five RBI, one walk, and four strikeouts over 19 plate appearances. He led off each of those games without a hit and is also a lifetime .202/.276/.356 hitter when leading off an inning, though he has crushed four solo homers when put in that spot.

Up with the Red Sox for the second time this season now, Chavis has a chance to once again prove that he belongs.

The former first-round pick and top prospect had put together an impressive spring, but ultimately lost the competition for Boston’s final bench spot to Christian Arroyo, who unlike Chavis is out of minor-league options.

“He did a good job in spring training early on,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said about Chavis Friday. “I do believe toward the end because of the competition, he started chasing hits and he got out of his approach.”

Since making his major-league debut in April 2019, Chavis has experienced many highs and many lows in his time with the Sox.

As noted by MassLive.com’s Christopher Smith, Chavis batted 296 with a .389 on-base percentage, .592 slugging percentage, .981 OPS, nine home runs, two doubles, 24 RBI, 14 walks and 30 strikeouts over his first 26 big-league games and 119 plate appearances.

Since then, he has batted a subpar .228 with a .281 on-base percentage, .382 slugging percentage, 14 homers, 13 doubles, three triples, 53 RBI, 25 walks and 147 strikeouts over his last 111 big-league games (427 plate appearances).

“We know what he can do. I saw it in ‘19,” said Cora. “Obviously the league caught up with him. I do believe he did a good job in spring training knowing the boundaries of his swing. And hopefully, when he gets a chance here, he can do it.”

As Chavis prepares to make his first major-league start of the 2021 season against the O’s (15-17) on Saturday, here is how the rest of the Red Sox (20-13) will line up behind him.

Right-hander Garrett Richards will be on the mound for Boston, and he will be opposed by rookie left-hander Zac Lowther for Baltimore.

First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.

(Picture of Michael Chavis: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Red Sox Manager Ron Roenicke Has Considered Batting Alex Verdugo Out of Leadoff Spot ‘Over Last Few Days’

For the sixth time in his 10 starts for the Red Sox thus far, outfielder Alex Verdugo will be batting out of the seven-hole in Friday’s series opener against the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.

According to manager Ron Roenicke, though, Verdugo’s status as a bottom half of the lineup-type hitter could change quite soon, as the Sox skipper has considered batting the 24-year-old out of the leadoff spot “over the last few days.”

So far this season, fellow left-handed hitting outfielder Andrew Benintendi has primarily served as Boston’s leadoff man, and, as you may already be aware, has struggled in that role. Through his first 39 plate appearances of 2020, the former first-round pick has mustered just two hits, resulting in a dismal .069/.289/.103 slash line.

Even with that in mind, Benintendi is still batting leadoff for the Sox on Friday, but if his struggles do continue, Roenicke did say that he’s “not going to be stubborn and keep (the 26-year-old in the leadoff spot) forever.”

Prior to coming over from the Dodgers in February, only made one start for Los Angeles as a leadoff hitter, which came back on July 27, 2019. In that contest against the Nationals, the Arizona native went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.

On the flip side of that, Verdugo does own a career .291/.345/.555 slash line over 119 plate appearances when leading off an inning.

Roenicke also mentioned that “it doesn’t seem [like] left or right-handers bother” Verdugo, so it would appear that the exuberant outfielder’s reputation as a “reverse splits guy” is here to stay.