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When David Ortiz packed for this road trip, he made sure his equipment bag contained a first baseman’s mitt.
“Just in case,” he said before last night’s 5-3 win over the Rays.
Regardless, when Ortiz plays first base, Valentine said Adrian Gonzalez likely will move to right field.
Ortiz took grounders at first base in spring training and even played the position for a few innings in an exhibition game against Boston College. Asked if he believes the additional reps in spring training will help him during interleague play, Ortiz laughed.
“No,” he said before getting more serious. “I’m fine. No fear. Never fear from Papi.”
Said Valentine: “I think David can catch it at first. Then you always have those plays — throwing out the runner in the line and things that could happen. I don’t think David is real friendly with pop-ups either.”
Herald - David Ortiz ready to play field
And now it's time for our annual 'To play or not to play' Ortiz in the field debate.
Valentine has stated that Papi will play first in at least one of the games against Philly, so it's going to happen. Lauber points out in the above article that the Sox face righty Joe Blanton on Saturday, and lefties Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee in the other two games. So if you if you had to take an educated guess on when he'd play, I think you have your answer there.
Personally, I'm not a fan of playing Ortiz at first. Sure, for the pure comedy of it it's great; especially when you have Gonzalez playing right. Every pop-up brings with it the possibility for laughter. But it also brings the possibility of torn ACLs and sprained knees and a whole bevy of other injuries that occur when very large men try to do very agile things.
But when you sit a hot batter, you always risk cooling him down. Ortiz is still swinging a decent bat -- he has 9 hits over his past 10 games including 3 doubles and a home run. While he hasn't been as scorching as he was a month ago, the consistency is still there. If you take him out of the lineup, it could easily impact his timing at the plate.
So we find ourselves drawing the same conclusions we do every year. Papi's defense is poor enough that he can't be the everyday first baseman, even for a weekend. However, the Sox will need to play him to not completely throw off his game. And we're in store for a little adventurous excitement on Saturday.
On Page 2, Dice-K is still looking pretty bad in Pawtucket
Daisuke Matsuzaka recorded the longest outing of his minor league rehab assignment, delivering 6 2/3 innings in Durham for Triple-A Pawtucket, but the right-hander was once again touched for a pair of homers while allowing five runs (four earned) on seven hits. He struck out three and walked none while throwing 64 of 95 pitches (67 percent) for strikes, and he was charged with the loss in Pawtucket's 5-0 defeat.
In five rehab starts, Matsuzaka has a 4.62 ERA, 22 strikeouts and six walks in 25 1/3 innings. He's allowed six homers.
WEEI - Daisuke allows five runs in Triple-A loss
Matsuzaka has one more start on May 22nd before the Sox are going to decide whether to bring him up to Boston or keep him in AAA to continue to rehab.
A few weeks ago we were looking at Matsuzaka as some sort of mid-season savior for this rotation. But, at least for now, we don't need him. Let Doubront and Bard continue to improve. Let Clay see if he can get back to being a decent pitcher.
And let Matsuzaka stay in Pawtucket and see if he can figure out how to not give up so many home runs.
Rest of the links:
Herald - Cody Ross leads Sox past Rays | Adrian Gonzalez call was no hit | Globe - Dice-K works 6 2-3 innings in longest rehab start | Red Sox pull out all the stops to beat the Rays | Arguing too much would not be a good call | WEEI - Why Daniel Bard is thinking a lot about hitting these days | Aviles: 'I definitely lost my cool' after call | CSNNE - Bullpen vital in Sox' resurgence | Sense of urgency fuels Sox victory
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