For nearly a decade, it was a certainty that David Ortiz would only need his first baseman’s mitt for a road Interleague or World Series game, in which the Red Sox did not have the designated hitter. But things changed on Sunday, as the slugger got the nod at first and the heavily-slumping Mike Napoli was on the bench.
Hanley Ramirez served as the designated hitter. This was Ortiz’s first start at first base in a game being played under American League rules since June 22, 2006, at Seattle. It was his first start at first at Fenway since July 16, 2005 against the Yankees.
“Well, today’s lineup I think gives us the best lineup we can put on the field,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “[We] Recognize that it’s been quite some time since David has played first base in an American League game. It also gives us the ability to put [Alejandro] De Aza in left field. It’s about putting the best lineup on the field today.”
Ortiz playing first will not become a staple for the Red Sox. This seemed to be an isolated occurrence, and the Red Sox have a day off on Monday in which the 39-year-old DH will be able to rest his legs.
I don’t know how frequently we would see this going forward,” said Farrell. “David and I had a chance to talk after the game last night, then this morning. Tomorrow with an off-day this was kind of an ideal set of circumstances to get him at first base.”
If Napoli continues to struggle, the Red Sox would have the option of getting Brock Holt more regular playing time at first base once Dustin Pedroia returns from the disabled list.
Ortiz has generally held his own while playing first for the Red Sox, making standout plays in the World Series in 2004 and ’07.
“A guy like me, when I play first base, the thing is that when you’re playing defense out there you got to do a lot of bending and a lot of moving. You’re moving a lot every time the pitcher makes a pitch,” said Ortiz. “So maybe the next day you feel a little sore or whatever, but it goes away. I kind of start feeling things out as the game goes and try not to go too crazy.”
Napoli’s struggles have been one of the surprises of the season. The first baseman is hitting .192 with 10 homers, 30 RBIs and a .652 OPS.
“Napoli’s what, 32 years old? He’s still young,” said Ortiz. “He’s going to come out of it. It’s just not that easy to come out of it. You can have a good game and that gives you the positive vibe, and all of a sudden you are hitting. It’s just like, when you never see that game come, you just keep on digging and digging and digging, and it’s hard to come out of it.”
Highly-touted lefty prospect Eduardo Rodriguez will make his Major League debut for the Red Sox when he starts on Thursday night at Texas.
The Red Sox will make a corresponding roster move before Thursday’s game. Manager John Farrell said that he isn’t bumping anyone from the rotation, and that he will go with six starters this time through. The Red Sox are in the midst of a stretch of 20 games in a row without a day off.
At this point, Rodriguez — ranked as the fourth best Red Sox prospect by MLB Pipeline — is only expected to make the one start before going back down to Triple-A. But Farrell has reserved the right to change his mind.
The Red Sox acquired Rodriguez from the Orioles for Andrew Miller on July 31, 2014.
Rodriguez, 22, is 4-3 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts for Triple-A Pawtucket this season.
David Ortiz, off to his worst start to a season since 2010, was dropped to fifth in the batting order tonight by manager John Farrell.
This is the first time Ortiz has started a game at a spot other then third or fourth since 2012, under Bobby Valentine.
Pablo Sandoval will hit third, followed by Hanley Ramirez, at Target Field against Twins right-hander Mike Pelfrey.
Hello from sunny Bradenton, where the red-hot Red Sox (six straight wins) brought a bus that included nearly all of their best players.
Opponent: Pirates (4-3).
TV/Radio: None. So make sure to follow closely on twitter (@ianmbrowne) and redsox.com.
Today’s lineup: Victorino RF, Pedroia 2B, Ortiz DH, Ramirez LF, Sandoval 3B, Napoli 1B, Bogaerts SS, Bradley CF, Swihart C.
Starting matchup: Buchholz vs. Burnett.
Available out of the bullpen: Ogando, Hembree, Couch, Celestino, Scott, Rodriguez, McCarthy, Younginger.
Recent stories of interest on redsox.com:
Mookie looks ready to take over the leadoff spot. http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/112199708/mookie-betts-looks-ready-to-take-over-leadoff-spot-for-red-sox
Kelly improving plan of attack: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/112198978/red-sox-right-hander-joe-kelly-kelly-displays-improved-command-against-yankees
Andrew Miller credits Red Sox for making a strong run at him in offseason. http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/112199706/left-hander-andrew-miller-contemplated-return-to-red-sox-in-offseason
By Ian Browne/MLB.com
Here we go. Ready for the first day game after the night game of Spring Training.
Opponent: Miami Marlins (0-1).
TV/Radio: None (So make sure to follow my tweets and stories for everything you miss).
Today’s lineup: Betts CF; Holt SS; Ortiz DH; Ramirez LF; Victorino RF; Nava 1B; Hanigan C; Cecchini 3B; Weeks 2B.
Starting matchup: Justin Masterson vs. Tom Koehler.
Available out of bullpen: Owens, Uehara, Layne, Ross, Hembree, Couch, Paulino.
Recent stories of interest on redsox.com
Pedroia, Bogaerts have impactful starts at plate: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111455118/xander-bogaerts-dustin-pedroia-get-off-to-powerful-starts-for-red-sox
Kelly struggles in Spring Opener: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111457362/red-sox-pitcher-joe-kelly-struggles-in-first-grapefruit-league-start
Bradley comes out swinging against Twins: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111459906/red-sox-outfielder-jackie-bradley-jr-comes-out-swinging-against-twins
Some good, old-fashioned t-shirt fun: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111406038/clay-buchholz-has-t-shirts-made-for-red-sox-starting-rotation
For all Red Sox info, follow all of our stories at http://www.redsox.com, and follow me on twitter (@ianmbrowne).
By Ian Browne/MLB.com
Here here, the games are here! The Red Sox will play every day (sometimes twice in a day) between today and April 4. The lone exception is March 25, an off-day on the game schedule.
Opponent: Minnesota Twins (0-0).
TV/Radio: MLB Network; MLB.TV; 93.7 FM WEEI.
Bogaerts SS; Pedroia 2B; Sandoval 3B; Napoli 1B; Craig LF; LaHair DH; Brentz RF; Bradley CF; Vazquez C.
Starting matchup: Joe Kelly vs. Kyle Gibson.
Available out of the bullpen for the Red Sox: Barnes, Johnson, Tazawa, Mujica, Ogando, Celestino, Ramirez.
Red Sox reserves of note: Berry, Swihart, Marrero.
Recent stories of interest on Redsox.com:
Red Sox cautious but optimistic on Rusney: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111356320/rest-helps-center-fielder-rusney-castillo-but-red-sox-proceeding-with-caution
Rotation quickly forming bond: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111154038/revamped-red-sox-rotation-quickly-forming-bond
Healthy Breslow could be important for Red Sox: http://m.redsox.mlb.com/news/article/111193894/healthy-spring-training-important-to-red-sox-pitcher-craig-breslow
For all Red Sox info, follow all of our stories at http://www.redsox.com, and follow me on twitter (@ianmbrowne).
So why did the Red Sox extend John Farrell’s contract through 2017 with an option for ’18?
The main reason, obviously, is that they believe very strongly in him, and last season’s disappointment did nothing to change that.
This also takes away any chance that Farrell’s contract could become a distraction. Remember how Terry Francona’s lack of an extension seemed like a non-story in 2011?
The Red Sox, in my humble opinion, were smart to get out in front of this one, announcing the deal on the same day as the first official team workout.
Pablo Sandoval arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport on Monday afternoon for a recruiting visit with the Red Sox, who will be one of his main suitors in free agency. It had been reported that Sandoval would be coming to Boston this week, and a local television affiliate, Channel 7, got exclusive video footage of him upon arrival.
It is still very early in the free-agent process for Sandoval, who is expected to meet with several teams. It won’t truly be known what shape Sandoval’s negotiations will take until he meets with the San Francisco Giants, the team the third baseman has won three World Series championships with in the last five years.
The Giants have stated they would like to meet with Sandoval later in the process, after he has met with other teams.
Sandoval could help give the Red Sox the type of production they badly need from the left side of the plate. Aside from David Ortiz, Boston’s lineup is almost all right-handed. Sandoval is a switch hitter, but is stronger from the left side. The Red Sox also haven’t had much production at third base the last two seasons, and Sandoval could certainly change that.
Sandoval, who is 28 years old, could be seeking a contract of five or six years.
He has spent his entire career with the Giants, hitting .294 with 106 homers, 462 RBIs and an .811 OPS.
Derek Jeter was emotionally drained from his Yankee Stadium finale, and asked out of Friday night’s lineup at Fenway. He indicated he will DH in the final two games, on Saturday and Sunday.
But the captain did hold a lengthy press conference. Here are some of the highlights.
Thoughts on Fenway as a final destination? “To finish up my season, if there’s anywhere to play besides New York, I guess it’s only fitting that it’s here in Boston because of all the games that I’ve played here, the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees. If you can’t do it in New York, this is the next-best place, I guess.”
Will it be hard to recharge for the weekend? “Probably. I don’t know; I’m not playing tonight. I don’t know if I could play tonight if I anted to play tonight. I’m sure it will. Last night was as special as it gets. Playing your last game at home at Yankee Stadium, the way the fans were, the atmosphere; it was supposed to rain and people didn’t think we were going to play, and I don’t even think there was a raindrop the whole night. Everything was pretty much perfect in terms of the situation we were in for my last game.”
Remembrances of the rivalry: “This rivalry has been intense throughout the years. It doesn’t get any more intense than playing in the ALCS in back-to-back years. For the most part, for most of my career, the two teams have been 1-2 in the division and we’ve been fighting for first place. The teams have been pretty evenly matched. They’ve won a few World Series and we’ve won a few, but just the electricity, the atmosphere, the excitement – the fans are what make the atmosphere fun for us. It’s always been fun to come here and when they come to New York, it always seems like it’s almost like a postseason game. We play them so many times, but the atmosphere seems like a postseason game.”
Which Red Sox players will you remember the most? “There’s a lot. There’s a few guys that I’ve played against. I’ve been coming here for a long, long time. There’s guys you play against, there’s pitchers that you’ve faced whether it’s Pedro, Schilling or Wakefield. These are guys we had some battles against. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed competing against the best and Boston, their teams have been some of the best that we’ve played during my career. I come here time after tie and enjoyed the games. They seemed like they were draining every time we came here and when they came to New York, but there were so many people we played against throughout the course of the years where when I look back and reflect on it, I’ll be happy I had a chance to compete against those guys.”
Interaction with people in Boston? “I went to lunch. I was outside a little bit. People were just saying congratulations on the career and that I’m a Red Sox fan, I hate the Yankees but I respect you. It was brief. I wasn’t outside much because I hadn’t slept much. I tried to stay in. When I was walking here through the stands, there were fans cheering, which was kind of different. I remember coming here in the All-Star Game in ’99 and the car that was dropping us off went to the wrong entrance. I was out of the car walking to the stadium and I thought they were going to kill me, they were all over me. So it’s funny how things have changed.”
Red Sox fans nicer to you now? “I think after they won, it sort of – I don’t want to say they softened up, so don’t say they softened up, but I think they’ve become a little bit kinder. And thank you for that.”
Can this weekend be as emotional as the farewell in New York? “I don’t know. I can’t imagine it being like it was in New York, and that has nothing to do with where I am, that’s just where I;ve played my entire career. I know, it’s another I don’t know, I can tell you on Sunday, but I can; t imagine it, because that’s pretty much as good as it gets, I think for me. Like I said, I’m playing here because I have respect for this rivalry, for Boston, and the fans. If it was anywhere else I don’t know if I’d play.”
Even Ortiz cheered for you last night: “That’s probably the first time he’s ever cheered for me to get a hit, I think. But it’s always good to hear it. I’ve heard so many great things from peers throughout the course of the season, whether it’s the younger guys or some of the older guys. You have a mutual; respct for guys you compete against year in and year out. David’s been here for a long time. He’s been a big part of this rivalry. These are the games you’re going to miss when you retire but when you have guys that say things like that it makes you feel good.”
How do you envision your final at-bat at Fenway? “I don’t know. I don’t try to script things. I have no idea.”
John Lackey spoke to the Boston media prior to Tuesday’s Red Sox-Cardinals game, just days after being traded by the team he won the World Series with to the team he beat in the clinching game.
Reuniting with old teammates: “Oh yeah absolutely. it’s great to see some friends, for sure. Talked to a couple of them yesterday on the phone and stuff. definitely some guys you’ll miss but kind of part of the deal.”
Going to the Cardinals: “Pretty excited, actually. I wasn’t really surprised. Honestly, it was about as good a place for me to be right now. I was pretty happy with where it happened, I guess.”
The way the Red Sox were dismantling last year’s team, maybe it was best he left? “I mean, yeah, you could see it kind of heading in that direction for sure. I’m happy to be here and happy with what happened and the way Ben handled it was first class so everything was cool.”
Chance to get back to the World Series: “That’s the only reason I’m still playing. I’m still playing to try to win a ring. That’s the only reason I’m still here. to be able to be here and have that opportunity to make a playoff run or try to get into the playoffs is where I want to be.”
Three rings for three teams? “That’s getting a little bit too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s see how I do in my next start.”
Any talks with Red Sox about an extension before you left? “No, not … not really. We didn’t get that far ahead.”
Why not? “I’m glad to be here.”
Was Lackey hoping for a trade? “I’m not going to go that far. I wasn’t surprised.”
Your time in Boston: “There were definitely some ups and downs, for sure, some fun and some not so fun, I guess.”
What will you remember most? “I’ll concentrate on last year and winning a championship and really enjoying that year and having fun with those guys.”
Were the tough times he had in Boston toughest of his career? “I’ve moved on.”
Glad he didn’t have to pitch in this series against Boston? “I would have been OK pitching against the Red Sox, yeah. Yeah.”
But five or six days after the trade? “That would have been a little crazy, for sure, for it to be that quick. I’m going to concentrate on getting outs and I would have gone on and done my thing.”
Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy tells Lackey he doesn’t seem very sentimental about Boston: “I mean, I don’t know what you want me to say.”
Talk to Lester much lately? “Oh yeah. We talked every other day at least. We’ve already talked a little trash. Hopefully I’ll see him later on.”
How about a chance to face Lester in the World Series? “That’s what we talked about, yeah. Hopefully it works out, we’ll see.”
You said you have no problem pitching for the player minimum next year with Cardinals. Would you have done that for Boston? “I don’t know about that honestly. I didn’t get that far ahead to think about it at that point.”
What is different about doing that in St. Louis vs. Boston? “You guys are trying to stir stuff up. I didn’t get that far ahead thinking about it.”