Ortiz likely DS — Designated Sitter — in Philly
It became an annual tradition in June. The Red Sox would go to a National League City and Terry Francona would juggle around his lineup, with David Ortiz starting two or three of the games at first base, with the other corner guys splitting days off.
Now, however, with Ortiz — not withstanding tonight’s prodigious two-run homer — mired in a slump of epic proportions, Kevin Youkilis will stay right at first base for the series at Philadelphia this weekend. Don’t rule out Mike Lowell getting one game off, and Youkiis moving to third, and Ortiz getting one start. But I wouldn’t expect it to be much more than that.
“We’re trying to win games,” said Francona. “We want to put our best hitters — and our best defensive players [out there]. What do you do with Youk? We have a guy that’s won the Gold Glove that I would have a hard time saying, ‘we’re not going to play our Gold Glove first baseman because I want to take David’s mind off of his struggles.’ That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
Francona confided Tuesday that even when he used to force Ortiz in at first base in Interleague Play during his time as an elite slugger, it wasn’t the most comfortable move.
“I don’t think that’s our best team,” Francona said. “I think when we’ve done it in World Series and some Interleague, we hoped it didn’t cost us games. I was always very uncomfortable with David out there. I think that’s obvious. Part of it is because he hasn’t been out there. I don’t think that’s fair to him. I hate to put it a player in a position where he can be embarrassed. It’s not because of skill. It’s because he hasn’t been out there.”
As for the pitching matchups in Philly, right-hander Joe Blanton will go Friday night, followed by left-handers Antonio Bastardo and J.A. Happ. You would think Papi plays Friday, with Lowell getting the day off after a late night of travel. Best guess is that Papi serves as pinch-hitter Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, here we go — time for Red Sox-Yankees. Just a light mist.