As expected, Matt Joyce was demoted to Durham following yesterday’s game to make room for the return of BJ Upton. Upton will start in center field for tonight’s home opener and bat lead off. And based on his 7 steal attempts in his 3 rehab starts, our guess is Upton is going to be running early, and often.
And buried at the bottom of Marc Topkin’s piece, Joe Maddon may be considering another lineup change.
Maddon is deciding between Ben Zobrist and Gabe Gross to start in right tonight
This suggests that Maddon is considering a change in which Zobrist becomes at least the left-handed half of a right field platoon, permanently replacing Gross. Last season, Zobrist was a better hitter against lefties (.269BA/.356OBP v LHP, .242/.328 v RHP) but showed more power against righties (.542 SLG v RHP, .449 SLG v LHP).
If Zobrist does replace Gross in right field, one has to wonder if Gross would soon be on the way out. Gross is not the kind of player Maddon likes to have on his bench. Maddon prefers players with positional flexibility and that is not Gabe Gross.
If Zobrist does replace Gross, the next logical step would seem to be Adam Kennedy replacing Gross on the roster and assuming the role of backup middle infielder.