FORT MYERS, Fla. — The lineup card posted in the Red Sox clubhouse required a second glance Friday morning. Jonny Gomes batting leadoff?
“Not a misprint,” Gomes said.
Gomes had hit leadoff in only two regular-season games, both with Tampa Bay in 2007. The Rays lost 96 games that season and manager Joe Maddon tried a few creative lineups.
“It looks strange. Jonny Gomes batting first? But if you think about it, it makes sense. I usually have a good on-base percentage,” Gomes said. “So why not?”
Gomes was 0 for 3 in an 8-2 loss against the Twins. He lined to shortstop, flied to left, and grounded to the pitcher. But that won’t discourage manager John Farrell from trying it again.
“He puts up a quality at-bat regardless of a lefty or righty. We saw that repeatedly last year. This is a look at maybe an alignment that we see during the year, too,” Farrell said.
With Jacoby Ellsbury jumping to the Yankees, Shane Victorino is the leading candidate to bat first. But Farrell has said Nava and Gomes are possibilities.
Gomes has a .360 OBP the last two seasons.
“I’ll do it,” he said. “My approach is going to be the same, to get on base. I don’t think a team would pitch me any differently, either. I’ll hit first or I’ll hit ninth. I just want to play.”
For Gomes, lineups are somewhat overrated.
“Once you hit first, you might not lead off again the rest of the game,” Gomes said. “But if that is what they want, I’ll be there.”
Farrell said Ellsbury called him after he signed with the Yankees to express his appreciation.
“To his credit he called to say thanks,” Farrell said. “I got the sense he was a little surprised it happened so fast, the magnitude that it happened.
“[I] wished him well. We’re certainly going to miss him but now he’s on the other side. But he handled it with a lot of class. He was very grateful for his time here and gave thanks to the way things unfolded last year.”
Building up Breslow
Craig Breslow is the only uninjured pitcher in camp yet to throw off a mound. The 33-year-old lefthander is being built up gradually.
“The one thing about Bres, and he stated this last year, it’s not the number of appearances in spring training,” Farrell said. “He knows that when his arm is feeling right, he can get ready for the season through bullpens, even if it’s limited appearances.
“He’s ahead of last year’s schedule this time of year, for sure. Every pitcher has individual needs as they ramp up the volume. We’ve discovered through last year’s experience that this pace and this program worked well for him.”
Breslow started last season on the disabled list because of shoulder tendinitis. He said there is no injury this season; the slow progression is more caution in the wake of the extra work he did in the postseason.
Cordero gets work
Francisco Cordero pitched a scoreless sixth inning and had a strikeout but did give up two hits. The 38-year-old is in camp on a minor league contract after sitting out last season.
Cordero has 329 career saves but is a long shot to make the team.
“I’m having fun,” he said before his outing. “My arm feels good and I’m glad to be playing baseball again. That’s how I look at it.”
Farrell said the Red Sox would best be able to judge Cordero by seeing how hitters react to his pitches. He’s scheduled to pitch again on Tuesday against Tampa Bay.
Sizemore in center
Grady Sizemore came away feeling good after playing three innings Thursday and will start in center field on Saturday against the Twins. “He’s responded well,” Farrell said . . . Sam and Seth Levinson, the agents who represent Jon Lester, are in Fort Myers. Lester will be a free agent after the season and has said he wants to stay with the Red Sox . . . Sen. George Mitchell, a senior adviser to the Red Sox ownership group, attended the game . . . Mike Napoli had a sign in his locker that read, “A man doesn’t grow a beard, a beard grows a man.”Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.