Bogaerts may be Red Sox's cleanup hitter

Bogaerts may be Red Sox's cleanup hitter

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Though Xander Bogaerts hit just seven homers in 613 at-bats last season, he could start 2016 as the Red Sox's primary cleanup hitter.

Manager John Farrell has been tinkering with that alignment of late, continuing with Wednesday night's game against the Twins.

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By hitting Bogaerts fourth, the Red Sox can separate him from the two other right-handed hitters (Mookie Betts and Dustin Pedroia) at the top of the order. Under that scenario, David Ortiz would hit third.

"If the No. 1 criteria of the four-hole hitter was how many home runs did you hit, Xander isn't that type of hitter," said Farrell. "Within our lineup, you're always looking to get your higher on-base, higher-average guys higher in the order. He's clearly one of those. Second to that is, how do you best break up a complete run of right-handers?"

It's certainly possible Bogaerts will increase his power in his age-23 season. Aside from the lack of home runs, Bogaerts had a strong offensive season last year, hitting .320 with a .355 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage.

"If everyone hits to their capabilities, we've got a lengthy and deep lineup," Farrell said. "I wouldn't focus this solely on Xander. It's the entire group that we've got that's a talented group. Maybe we're not quite hitting the way we're capable of right now, but this has got a chance to be a very deep lineup."

Farrell suggested he would mainly use the Ortiz-Bogaerts alignment against right-handers, and probably flip it against left-handers.

"I like the fact that David comes up in the first inning, and I prefer him to hit in the first inning rather than we go one-two-three and he's leading off the second inning," Farrell said. "I recognize that happens one time in a game. We can really dig into the merits of a lineup. Hitters are going to tell you where they hit in the lineup by how they perform. There's a lot to that."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.