Red Sox showcase top 3 spots in lineup

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When the Boston Red Sox added Carl Crawford to their roster, the hot topic this winter quickly became what the possible lineup would be in 2011.

Even though today is only the second game of Grapefruit League action this spring, a sneak peek at the possible top three spots will be on display against the Minnesota Twins: Jacoby Ellsbury leading off, followed by Dustin Pedroia and then Crawford.

When asked about his lineup earlier today, Red Sox manager Terry Francona claimed he didn’t know what the lineup was against the Twins, but then added it’s an “obvious possibility” once the regular season begins.

“We’re just trying to win the Mayor’s Cup. We frontloaded it for obvious reasons,” Francona said with a laugh. “Panic is setting in.”

There have been internal discussions this spring about the best possible lineup for this loaded Red Sox team.

“We’ve always said, when [Ellsbury] is leading off and hitting well, that’s probably our best lineup,” Francona said. “I don’t think I ever disagree with that.”

It’s also a safe bet to assume Crawford will hit in the fifth spot at some point this spring once camp begins to wind down. The theory with Crawford at No. 5 is that he’ll give more protection for David Ortiz in the sixth hole. With Crawford’s speed, it’ll force opponents to rethink the dreaded shift on Ortiz.