FORT MYERS, Fla. – Marco Scutaro has no problem batting ninth for the Boston Red Sox.

Scutaro had 574 at-bats for the Toronto Blue Jays last season, all as the leadoff hitter. With Jacoby Ellsbury in the top spot of Boston’s lineup, Scutaro will be hitting at the bottom of the order, likely in the ninth spot.

That’s just fine with Scutaro. After all, he has more at-bats in the 9-hole than in any other spot in the order over his eight-year career with the Mets, A’s and Blue Jays.

“I don’t care,” said the 34-year-old native of Venezuela. “Wherever they need me. I think my game is maybe if I hit leading off or the second hole or eighth, ninth, pretty much it’s going to be my game. Just trying to get on base and score runs for the team.”

The Red Sox hope Scutaro can bring a spark to the bottom of the order. Last season, Boston’s No. 9 batters hit .245 with a .302 on-base percentage, a .391 slugging percentage and 70 runs scored. Scutaro, meanwhile, hit .282 with a .370 OBP, a .409 slugging percentage and 100 runs scored — all career highs.

“It’s like you’ve got another leadoff hitter hitting ninth, getting on base for Ellsbury and (No. 2 hitter Dustin) Pedroia,” hitting coach Dave Magadan said. “You have guys that turn the lineup over. … You’ve got guys that are working the count, taking their walks, getting on base, can steal a base if they have to. Now you’ve got the top of your lineup coming up, Ellsbury and Pedroia.”

Scutaro, one of three new batters in the Red Sox lineup this season, with third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Mike Cameron, will add to the versatility of the batting order.

“(Scutaro) could hit first, second, ninth,” Manager Terry Francona said. “If guys get on base and they do their jobs, the lineup that we put out there won’t be the end all, be all. When it becomes an issue is when guys aren’t hitting and you’re trying to shift guys around. That’s when it becomes an issue.”

A new spot in the order will be just one of the adjustments the shortstop will have to make this season. But having a Gold Glove winner as a double-play partner should help smooth the transition.

“I don’t think it’s going to take that long,” Scutaro said. “(Pedroia’s) been playing for a long time. I’ve been playing for a long time. So it’s not going to take too long.

“He’s a guy who likes to communicate during the games, and I do, too,” Scutaro added. “So, I don’t think it’s going to be too difficult to get on the same page.”

Pedroia said they’re already there.

“It took a couple ground balls,” Pedroia said. “He’s real steady over there. He’s a baseball player. He makes my job real easy.”

Scutaro will have another Gold Glove winner playing to his right in third baseman Adrian Beltre.

“It’s good, man. I only have to worry about routine ground balls,” Scutaro said. “The ones to my right probably (Beltre’s) going to get it, and the ones to the middle probably Pedroia’s going to get it. So, it makes it easier.”


METS: Shortstop Jose Reyes said he met with federal investigators last week regarding a Canadian doctor accused of selling an unapproved drug.

Dr. Anthony Galea is facing four charges in his country related to the drug known as Actovegin, which is extracted from calf’s blood and used for healing. His assistant also has been charged in the U.S. for having HGH and another drug while crossing the border in September.

Besides Reyes, Galea also has treated Tiger Woods and several other professional athletes.


ATHLETICS: Pitchers Jason Jennings and Brett Tomko agreed to minor league deals with Oakland on Saturday, and less than 24 hours later Jennings was getting ready to play catch at A’s camp.

Jennings pitched for the Texas Rangers last year, while Tomko spent time with the Blue Jays, Yankees and A’s.

Tomko will continue to rehab an irritated nerve in his right arm that ended his 2009 season prematurely. He’ll report to the minor league camp and is expected to be ready to pitch by May.


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