Leading man: Pedroia fine batting first

Prototypical No. 2 hitter club's best fit to set tone at plate

Leading man: Pedroia fine batting first

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Somewhere along the line, a perception started that Dustin Pedroia didn't like to lead off.

But the Red Sox's team leader will bat first from the start this season and is looking forward to it.

"I never didn't like it," said Pedroia after going 1-for-2 in his Grapefruit League debut in an 8-7 win over the Twins on Saturday. "I don't know where that came from."

The theory might have come from statistics.

Though Pedroia did win the American League's Rookie of the Year Award hitting primarily in that spot in 2007, he hit .215 at the top from 2008-10 over a relatively small sample size of 195 plate appearances.

In truth, Pedroia is a prototypical No. 2 hitter with superb bat control. That is the spot he has played 834 career games in, compared to 188 at leadoff.

But now that Mookie Betts has turned into a power hitter, he is wasted in the leadoff spot. The way the roster is constructed, Pedroia is the best fit hitting first.

Manager John Farrell moved Pedroia back to leadoff in August last season, and the second baseman put on a laser show for the rest of the season, hitting .362.

Then again, Pedroia will hit anywhere you put him.

"I think I hit .300 every month but one, and I think I hit like .295 [that month], so it doesn't matter where I hit," Pedroia said.

Pedroia's consistent excellence was in fact a little underrated last season. He hit .311 in April, .308 in May, .294 in June, .298 in July, .406 in August and .315 in September.

"I think more than anything, Pedey likes the known factor of where he's going to be in the lineup, whether it's first, second or wherever it might be," Farrell said. "There's been times when he's been moved a little bit in the lineup. When he moved to the leadoff spot, which is a spot prior to last year might not have been his most desirable spot, you can't deny the tone he set for our offense, the quality of the at-bats he put together. And he just allows some of those guys in behind him to take advantage of their power."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.