Salty hitting cleanup first time ever

June, 16, 2012
6/16/12
6:54
PM ET
CHICAGO--With the Red Sox in a collective slump, manager Bobby Valentine introduced his seventh cleanup hitter of the season Saturday against the Chicago Cubs: catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Saltalamacchia had never previously started a game in the cleanup spot in his career, but with the Sox posting a collective .226/.292/.315 batting line over their last 11 games and scoring just 37 runs, 10 of which came in one game Wednesday against the Miami Marlins, Valentine elected to do a little juggling.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of his decision is that Saltalamacchia has been slumping along with most everyone else, batting just .161 (5 for 31) in the last 11 games, during which the Sox are 3-8. Five Sox batters are under .200 in that stretch: Kevin Youkilis (3 for 33, .091), Dustin Pedroia (6 for 40, .150), Saltalamacchia, Will Middlebrooks ( 4 for 22, .182), and Ryan Sweeney (5 for 27, .185).

Saltalamacchia hit a ball to the track in Friday's 3-0 loss to the Cubs, and also was robbed of a hit in the ninth inning by third baseman Luis Valbuena.

Adrian Gonzalez, hitting .233 (10 for 43) over the last 11 games, was dropped to the sixth hole for the third time this season. Gonzalez went 0 for 4, striking out twice, in Friday's loss.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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