Pressure Mounting for David Ortiz as Red Sox Chase Rays, Yankees The David Ortiz of this year is looking very similar to the David Ortiz we saw at the beginning of last year.

Unfortunately, though, manager Terry Francona doesn’t have the same kind of leeway these days when figuring out who to pencil into the lineup and who to keep on the bench. With the Rays and Yankees both off to hot starts, the Red Sox need to find a solution that works — fast.

NESN.com insider Tony Lee phoned into Thursday’s edition of SportsDesk to discuss Ortiz’s struggles as he grasps for consistency early this season.

“I think [the Red Sox] are seeing signs that Tito can’t really wait around for Ortiz to get going,” Lee told Cole Wright. “This is a team every night that’s looking up at the out-of-town scoreboard and is seeing Tampa Bay and the New York Yankees both on a pace for 100 wins or so. I don’t think [Francona] can necessarily wait around like he did last year as long as he did with Ortiz.”

Francona made a big statement on Monday night in Toronto, when he sent in Mike Lowell to pinch hit for Ortiz in the eighth inning with the bases loaded. Lowell drew a walk which gave Boston a lead. 

“I get the sense that Ortiz could be reaching a point of frustration,” Lee said. “We saw him walk off the field and head right to the clubhouse after that pinch-hitting episode, so it’s a dicey situation, but Francona just simply can’t wait for Ortiz to get hot.”

Is Ortiz a distraction in the clubhouse? Not exactly.

“You almost get the sense that something’s building with him,” Lee said. “He hasn’t even met with reporters after several of these games, and it’s certainly something to keep an eye on. I don’t think he’s a clubhouse cancer or anything right now, but it is something to keep an eye on going forward.”

For more from Cole and Tony Lee on the starting pitching, check out the video below.