Jacoby Ellsbury likely to bat leadoff this season


Jacoby Ellsbury entered spring training with a little something to prove after being limited to just 18 games last season due to fractured ribs. Fortunately for the Red Sox, he’s been the best player in camp thus far.

Ellsbury is batting .429 over his first 35 at-bats this spring, leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, total bases and runs scored.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona understandably likes what he’s seeing. He told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe this morning that Ellsbury will likely bat leadoff this season.

Some have argued that the Red Sox would be better served to use Dustin Pedroia out of the leadoff spot since he gets on base more often than Ellsbury. Under this scenario, the Red Sox would have Pedroia, Carl Crawford, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz in the first five spots of the batting order with Jacoby Ellsbury functioning as a second leadoff hitter of sorts out of the No. 9 hole. Assuming the Red Sox have Ellsbury lead off most of the time, we’ll likely see Pedroia second, followed by Crawford, Gonzalez, Youkilis and Ortiz.

One thing’s for sure, you won’t find any managers who have pity for Francona. This lineup has a chance to be a juggernaut, no matter who bats where.

Mariners sign Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal

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The Mariners signed free agent left-hander Wade LeBlanc to a one-year deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported Saturday. LeBlanc previously signed a minor league agreement with the Yankees, but later requested his release following the team’s Grapefruit League outing on Friday. The Mariners have yet to confirm the deal or disclose its terms.

This is LeBlanc’s second stint with the Mariners in two years. He was initially acquired by Seattle in the summer of 2016 after the Blue Jays traded him for cash considerations, and produced a 4.50 ERA, 1.6 BB/9 and 7.4 SO/9 in 50 innings before getting designated for assignment in August. The 33-year-old southpaw was last seen in the majors with the Pirates, with whom he generated another 4.50 ERA, 2,3 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 68 innings in 2017. He entered free agency after the club declined his $1.25 million option for 2018.

The signing comes at a fortuitous moment for the Mariners, who were pressed to find additional bullpen depth after right-handed reliever David Phelps tore his ulnar collateral ligament last week. As with most injuries of that kind, Phelps is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the entire 2018 season. LeBlanc made a full transition to the bullpen in 2017 and boasts the kind of reverse platoon splits (.216/.270/.389 vs. righties and .292/.333/.500 vs. lefties in 2017) that will make him an effective replacement for the right-handed Phelps.