After a big-money offseason spending spree, the Boston Red Sox were a popular pick to win the AL East. Some questioned the starting rotation but still thought the lineup would be powerful enough to bash its way to 100 or more wins.

After an 0-6 start, it’s unlikely the Sox will hit 100 wins, but we have seen signs of an offense that will score enough runs to make this team competitive.

The expectation that the Sox will be an offensive juggernaut isn’t just because of the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford. The Red Sox have heavy hitters returning from injuries, players who can help this team bang a few balls out of the park.

Players like Jacoby Ellsbury.

On Sunday, Ellsbury hit the team’s first three-run homer of the season, the biggest blow in an 8-1 win over the Blue Jays. It was the first time this season the Sox won back-to-back games, and was the first time since opening day that fans could breathe a sigh of relief and feel that maybe, just maybe, the team’s bad start was behind it.

Then on Monday, he chipped in a solo home run in a 9-1 holiday thrashing of Toronto.

Ellsbury is now the team’s home run leader. Sunday was Ellsbury’s third homer of the year, one-third of the way toward his career high of nine in a season before adding another Monday.

He also moved into a three-way tie for the team’s RBI lead with nine, with David Ortiz and Jed Lowrie, who drove in four Monday.

We all know about Ellsbury’s speed and his range in center field. Now we’re seeing that Ellsbury can back that all up with a little power, too.

Ellsbury is supposed to be the leadoff hitter on this team, but it hasn’t quite worked out that way.

At least not yet.

Ellsbury has been batting at the end of the lineup, in part because of his early struggles – he’s batting .200 – and in part because of the difficulty the team has had finding a spot for Crawford. There aren’t many teams that have their home run leader batting ninth.

It’s unlikely Ellsbury will stay at the bottom of the order for long.

He’s showing signs of coming out of his early season slump, and has shown his ability to excel in the leadoff spot.

Crawford has not.

Crawford continues to scuffle in the start of his Red Sox career, and also heard his share of boos at Fenway Park over the weekend.

On Sunday, Manager Terry Francona moved Crawford out of the leadoff spot in an effort to take a little pressure off and it worked.

Sort of.

J.D. Drew, batting at the top of the order for the first time this season, started the game with a triple and got on base all three times against left-handed starter Ricky Romero. On Monday, Drew was 2 for 4 at the top of the order.

Crawford, meantime, has continued his struggles at the plate.

Despite the home run Sunday, Ellsbury wasn’t back in the leadoff spot yet.

He isn’t hitting the ball consistently as of yet. Francona doesn’t want to rush him back to the top of the order until he’s ready. The belief is once he returns to the leadoff position, he’ll stay there for the long term.

And apparently he’ll hit a few long balls along the way.

 

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.