As Adrian Gonzalez battles back spasms, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine told reporters in St. Petersburg that Ortiz, Nick Punto and Brent Lillibridge — who started on Saturday — could be candidates to play first on Sunday.
In addition to those three options, Valentine said that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia would also take grounders at first base. Those are the alternatives, considering the team optioned Mauro Gomez to Triple-A Pawtucket.
But Ortiz is plenty seasoned for the position switch. During Boston's past series against the Phillies, Cubs and Marlins, Ortiz played seven games at first base without committing a single error.
At 5-foot-11, Lillibridge isn't the ideal fit to patrol first base. Because of the utilityman's short height, the Red Sox's infielders will be forced to fire throws much lower than usual.
That said, Lillibridge isn't a stranger to the position, having played first base in 20 games for the White Sox this season. In five major league seasons, Lillibridge has logged a total of 42 games at first base, which came over the past two seasons.
Saltalamacchia last regularly played first base in 2007, when he manned the fort for 24 games in Texas. While Punto has never been slotted at first in a game, he dabbled at the position during a few spring training games this season.
They shouldn't be backup options for much longer. Gonzalez told reporters that he expected to miss two-to-three more days, which gave the club confidence to demote Gomez on Saturday.