By Jeff Louderback
Mired in a 6-for-32 slump (.188) over his last 10 games, Daniel Nava was not in the starting lineup on Saturday as the Red Sox faced Baltimore Orioles right-hander Scott Feldman. Manager John Farrell opted for Mike Carp instead.
The 27-year-old Carp responded with three hits (including his 14th double) and a run as Boston clubbed Baltimore, 7-3. In his last 10 games, Carp is 12-for-31 (.387). Though he has not belted a home run and has just three RBI in that stretch, Carp has power.
It is challenging for Farrell to find playing time for Carp. The left-handed hitting outfielder/first baseman against right-handers is batting .336 with seven home runs and 25 RBI against right-handers compared to a 4-for-20 mark versus left-handers.
The switch-hitting Nava has a .284 average with 10 home runs, 52 RBI and a .794 OPS overall in 324 at-bats. He is 19-for-85 (.224) with a .606 OPS against left-handers and .305 with eight home runs, 42 RBI and a .860 OPS in 239 at-bats against righties.
The right-handed hitting Jonny Gomes is Farrell’s primary left field option when the Red Sox face left-handed starting pitchers. Gomes is batting .240 with eight home runs in 192 at-bats this season. Versus left-handers, he is 22-for-100 (.220) with five home runs. Gomes is hitting righties better this season (24-for-92, .261, three home runs).
Based on the numbers Carp, Nava and Gomes have against left-handers, Farrell has limited productive options when he pencils a left fielder into the lineup versus southpaws. The Red Sox are scheduled to face back-to-back left-handers on Monday and Tuesday, including reigning American League Cy Young Award winner David Price of Tampa Bay and Mariners veteran Joe Saunders.
A right-handed hitting outfielder could be on the menu in time for the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, though it appears the Red Sox are focusing on landing a starting pitcher and perhaps a third baseman.