Farrell points to Betts as potential leadoff man

Red Sox manager values 22-year-old's unique speed/on-base combination

Farrell points to Betts as potential leadoff man

BOSTON -- Though the Red Sox are exactly 114 days away from Opening Day, it's never too early to begin thinking about the 2015 season.

One of the biggest questions going into the offseason is how Boston's lineup will shake out, specifically the leadoff spot.

Could Mookie Betts take on that role?

"He's clearly a candidate for us," Red Sox manager John Farrell said during Saturday's Christmas at Fenway event. "Jacoby [Ellsbury] did such a great job for us for a number of years and when he signed elsewhere, we went through a little bit of a search to get those skills and that on-base/speed combination to be a little bit of a basestealing threat.

"They are rare. Some strength and speed combination doesn't come along with a lot of guys that come to the big leagues."

After being called up at the end of June, Betts hit in the leadoff spot for 22 of the team's final 26 games. In those 22 games, he hit .310 with 10 walks, three stolen bases and a .388 on-base percentage.

"He's got some natural confidence, there's no question. I think, because of that confidence, he's somewhat fearless. Now, that doesn't mean he's reckless, but he doesn't balk at the challenge that he's been faced with," Farrell said. "We saw improvement each of the three times he came back to us. That includes the ability to steal bases along the way.

"The aggressiveness is combined with some overall awareness, and that's the thing you see for a young guy that's so exciting is that there's a game awareness that exists that is pretty unique."

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @qlr5001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.