David Ortiz was noticeably absent from the Boston Red Sox’s starting lineup Wednesday against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
The nine-time All-Star wasn’t exactly thrilled.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said before the game that Ortiz’s absence was related to his struggles against left-handers. With lefty Wei-Yin Chen tabbed as Baltimore’s starter for the teams’ middle game, Farrell used Hanley Ramirez as his designated hitter and deployed an outfield comprised of Brock Holt (left field), Mookie Betts (center field) and Rusney Castillo (right field), seemingly to Ortiz’s chagrin.
“What do you want me to tell you?” Ortiz told reporters in Baltimore, reportedly with his back turned to them as he sat at his locker. “You have to ask the manager. I am not the manager here. I’m just the player. I do what I get to be told. I’m not playing today, so I’m here in case he needs me later.”
Ortiz entered Wednesday hitting .114 with a .111 on-base percentage and a .157 slugging percentage in 72 plate appearances against left-handers this season, which is a huge regression from 2014, when he hit .275 with a .349 on-base percentage and a .544 slugging percentage in 195 plate appearances versus southpaws.
Farrell indicated Wednesday that sitting Ortiz against lefties was a “temporary” move, but the skipper also is well-aware the slugger needs to improve in that area to warrant everyday at-bats in spite of the opposing pitcher.
“When you look at what he’s doing against righties, it’s exactly the same as what he did a year ago when he was probably 20 percent of our overall offense,” Farrell said. “And yet we’re trying to get him back on track against some left-handers.”
Ortiz, who turns 40 in November, has been adamant he’s not “washed up.” And Big Papi has proved doubters wrong plenty of times in the past. Perhaps being benched will fuel the fire.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images