Podsednik becomes Boston's 6th CF

May, 23, 2012
BALTIMORE -- Scott Podsednik, who wasn't in the big leagues last season, becomes the sixth center fielder to start a game for the Red Sox as the team plays the series finale against the Baltimore Orioles, which also marks the end of a 20 games-in-20-days stretch for the Sox.

Podsednik's last big-league start came on Sept. 9, 2010, for the Dodgers, who had acquired him from the Royals in a trading-deadline deal. He spent last season playing for Philadelphia's Triple-A team in Lehigh Valley, and after a spirited attempt to win a job with the Phils in camp this spring -- the Phils chose to keep Juan Pierre instead -- Podsednik was returned to the Iron Pigs.

Clearly dispirited, Podsednik batted just .203 in 22 games, with one extra-base hit in 83 at-bats, and appeared as if he might be at the end of the line. The Sox passed on picking him up earlier, acquiring Marlon Byrd instead, but on May 11 they made a minor-league deal for him, and the change -- and the possibility of another big-league opportunity -- may have rejuvenated him. Podsednik batted .323 in 9 games for the PawSox with a triple, home run and two stolen bases, was called up Tuesday when Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney both went on the DL, and appeared as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of a 4-1 loss, rolling into a force play.

With the Orioles starting a right-hander, Jake Arrieta, in Wednesday's matinee, manager Bobby Valentine decided to start Podsednik in center over Marlon Byrd, who had hit in 10 straight games until going hitless in two at-bats Tuesday night. Byrd is still batting .203 overall after a 3-for-43 start with the Cubs, but has batted .271 in 26 games with the Sox.

"We want to see what he has,'' Valentine said Wednesday morning. "He'll work the count, get on base, cause a little havoc, and maybe give us a little dimension we haven't had for awhile.''

Podsednik's best asset is his speed: He stole a National League-leading 70 bases for the Brewers in 2004, and at age 34 two years ago stole 35 bases for the Royals (30) and Dodgers (5).

"I've been around long enough to know you just never know,'' Podsednik said about landing with the Sox. "One day you wake up in Lehigh Valley, a few days later you wake up in Pawtucket, and a few days later you wake up in Baltimore. That's the way the games goes, but I'm fortunate and excited.''

Byrd has started 23 games in center for the Sox this season. Jacoby Ellsbury started 7, Ryan Sweeney 6, Jason Repko 4, and Cody Ross 3.

Meanwhile, Adrian Gonzalez was back in right field for the fourth time in five games. Gonzalez did not handle a single chance Tuesday night -- he did not touch the ball at all the entire game -- but with the Orioles deploying five left-handed hitters and a switch hitter against Daniel Bard Wednesday, that is unlikely to be the case in this one.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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