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Chavis hits leadoff in hunt for 'instant offense'

@IanMBrowne
May 19, 2019

BOSTON -- The Astros use their big thumper George Springer as their leadoff hitter, so Red Sox manager Alex Cora figured he would try it for a day. In Sunday’s finale of the three-game series against Houston, Cora had top prospect Michael Chavis -- who belted seven homers in his

BOSTON -- The Astros use their big thumper George Springer as their leadoff hitter, so Red Sox manager Alex Cora figured he would try it for a day.

In Sunday’s finale of the three-game series against Houston, Cora had top prospect Michael Chavis -- who belted seven homers in his first 89 at-bats entering Sunday -- batting first against lefty Wade Miley.

Chavis did his best Springer imitation in the bottom of the fifth when he launched a towering homer over the Green Monster and onto Lansdowne Street to help power the Red Sox to a 4-3 victory over the Astros.

In a cool moment right before Chavis belted Miley’s first pitch of the frame out of the yard, he was introduced by a kid public address announcer. Chavis tipped his cap to the young boy.

“I was impressed at how confident he was, because when I was a little kid I would have been so nervous I don't think I would have even done it,” said Chavis. “So I was kind of laughing to myself, like, good for that kid. Right before I got into the box I just felt like I should say ‘good job.’ I don't remember how old he was but obviously he's a younger kid and I thought it was cool that he did such a good job.”

Moments after his hat tip to the boy, Chavis was trotting around the bases with his eighth homer of the season.

"I kind of laughed to myself, like, that kid might be lucky. We need to bring him back,” Chavis said.

For the record, when was the last time Chavis was asked to bat leadoff?

"I don't think I ever have, honestly,” said Chavis.

Little League? T-ball?

“Maybe back then, but in pro ball I don't think I've ever led off,” said Chavis.

Not that he will turn down the opportunity if it ever comes again.

"Yeah, of course. It means I'm probably going to get more at-bats. That's awesome,” Chavis said.

But hitting Chavis first was not the most out-of-the-box idea Cora had before posting his Sunday lineup.

“At one point, I had J.D. [Martinez] leading off, I think,” said Cora. “Nah, I’m not going to do that.”

The main reason for the deployment of Chavis at the top of the lineup was left fielder Andrew Benintendi getting a rest.

“I mean, just watching the other side, why not? Got to swing hard and hit it out of the ballpark and see what happens,” Cora said. “Trying to bunch all those righties together.”

The alignment also had Xander Bogaerts batting third for the first time this season and Christian Vazquez in the No. 5 slot for the first time since 2017. The move also served Bogaerts well, as he had the biggest hit of the day, an RBI double in the seventh that snapped a 3-3 tie.

“Kept Mookie [Betts batting second], Christian is swinging the bat well. Put him up there. Xander is swinging the bat well against lefties. Kind of like to have some traffic for J.D. in front of him. Hopefully we have some instant offense,” Cora said.

Pedroia plays three in a row

Dustin Pedroia started for Triple-A Pawtucket on Sunday for the third day in a row, marking a milestone of sorts in his rehab from left knee issues. Sunday was the second day in a row Pedroia served as the DH, going 1-for-4 and scoring a run.

Pawtucket is off on Monday, but Pedroia is expected to be back at second base on Tuesday.

Brock Holt continues to play with Pawtucket along with Pedroia. Holt started at second base on Sunday and smashed a solo homer as part of a 1-for-3 day.

When Pedroia plays second base on Tuesday, Holt will move to shortstop, assuming his right shoulder feels up to it. Holt was diagnosed with a right shoulder impingement earlier this month.

Price check

How deep into the game will David Price be able to pitch in Monday’s return from the injured list?

“He feels good,” said Cora. “He had two bullpens in between, but obviously we’ll protect him. He can give us 15 to 18 outs. We’ll see how it plays out.”

This will be Price’s first start for the Red Sox since May 2. He was out with tendinitis in his left elbow.

New dad Leon to return Monday

Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon, who missed the weekend series so he could welcome his new daughter into the world, will return from the paternity list for Monday’s game in Toronto.

With Leon out of the mix, Vazquez started all three games against the Astros.

Sale, Pedroia represent Sox for Hooton foundation

Red Sox ace Chris Sale and Pedroia are two of a record 42 members of the Taylor Hooton Foundation Advisory board this season.

The Taylor Hooton Foundation is widely acknowledged as the leader in the advocacy against the use of appearance and performance-enhancing substances by the youth of America.

This is the fourth straight season that the MLB Advisory Board -- which formed in 2014 and is fully endorsed by Major League Baseball -- has included a representative from all 30 teams.

Sale frequently wears a T-shirt that says “All Me” and “No PEDs” on it.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.