Commentary

Scutaro, Gonzalez: Trading places

Shortstop has three hits, scores four runs in leading Sox past his former team

Updated: April 27, 2010, 12:01 PM ET
By Allan Ryan | Special to ESPNBoston.com

TORONTO -- The Red Sox went looking for a shortstop this past winter, and hardly because the Blue Jays had already scooped Boston incumbent Alex Gonzalez out of the free-agent marketplace.

Hardly.

And just as Gonzalez had been hoping for a longer run with the Sox, Marco Scutaro assures he would've been quite content to continue his finally-blossoming career with Toronto.

It wasn't to be, of course, in either case, but talk about shortstops passing in the night. Scutaro, now infield pivot and leadoff man for the Red Sox, did a little bit more of the passing Monday -- three hits, a walk and four runs scored in a not-so pitching-rich 13-12 win over Toronto.

[+] EnlargeAlex Gonzalez
Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire"It felt weird coming to this side," said Marco Scutaro of the visitors clubhouse at the Rogers Centre.

Gonzalez, now the Jays' shortstop, came to the party with a surprising five homers and a share of the league lead with nine doubles, but settled for a single and two-run triple.

"It felt weird coming to this side," said Scutaro of the visitors clubhouse at Rogers Centre.

"I know I'm always going to be thankful to Cito [manager Gaston] and J.P. [then general manager Ricciardi]. They were the ones who gave me the opportunity to play every day. That's all you wish for. I mean, no, the first thing you wish is just to get to the big leagues. Once you get there, all you wish is to play every day."

Which, after spending four years fashioning his reputation as a versatile super-sub with the Oakland As, is pretty much what he'd done for the Jays the past two seasons, With Toronto in '09, he set career highs for, among other things, at-bats (574), runs (100), hits (162), walks (90), steals (15) and homers (12).

Great season, wrong town, though. And Scutaro knew, soon enough, he'd be moving on. "He was very clear," Scutaro said of his short, sweet, offseason talks with Ricciardi's young successor, Alex Anthopoulos. "He told me if they were going to be competing [contending] next year, I was going to be the first guy they signed. They didn't feel like they'd be competing."

Of course, they never, ever seem to feel that way in Boston. And in the end, the Sox got their man -- their target all along, in fact -- for two years plus an option and $12.5 million guaranteed.

Scutaro had made $2.65 million for the Jays for 2008-09 while Gonzalez, who signed a week before Scutaro, is on board for one year and $2.75 million.

"I finished in Boston making the playoffs, the postseason, I was just waiting for their decision," Gonzalez said before that 13-12 thing Monday night. "I was waiting and waiting and [the Jays] showed an interest to come here so I signed with these guys. It's baseball. You never know where you're going to be tomorrow or next year. Now this guy [Scutaro's] got a starting job. It's a great team [Sox], a great city to play ball."

As for Monday's four-hours-plus afield, Scutaro, getting his 14th straight start at the top of the order, led off the first (yeah, obviously), but also the third and fourth. In these three instances, he went single, double and walk, scoring on each occasion as Boston engineered 1-0, 5-0 and 8-6 leads. The latter would be after the Jays had mashed Josh Beckett about for a six-run third.

And so it went 8-8 after four, 9-9 after five until Scutaro's infield chopper to third cashed the 10-9 go-ahead in a four-run sixth.

"That was not the way we drew it up," said manager Terry Francona, "but I think I've said that a couple of times this year. As quickly as we'd get feeling good about the game, suddenly we had our hands full again."

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