BOSTON — There’s no rift regarding David Ortiz’s stance on playing first base for the Red Sox.
While Ortiz said “hell no” earlier this week when asked whether he wants to play first base more often, Red Sox manager John Farrell indicated before Friday’s game against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park that it’s hardly a point of contention. Boston never had elaborate plans for Ortiz playing first base. The designated hitter’s two-game cameo in the field simply was a product of circumstance.
“I think it’s important to know that the schedule provided an opportunity,” Farrell said. “And even after the Sunday game against Houston, I, for one, and certainly David, we didn’t feel like this was going to be a situation of regularity.”
Using Ortiz at first base gave Mike Napoli time to work on his struggles outside of game action. It also gave the Red Sox a productive alignment, as Hanley Ramirez, who has been shaky defensively, could shift from left field to DH while Alejandro De Aza, who has provided a spark, could remain in Boston’s starting lineup.
But the situation was made possible by Boston’s two built-in off-days this week (Monday and Thursday), which allowed the Red Sox to deploy Ortiz at first base for two games (Sunday and Wednesday) with ample recovery time for the 39-year-old.
“There were opportunities in the schedule,” Farrell said. “And in talking with David directly about that, there was certainly a willingness on his part to get on the field in an American League game. He does a good job there. But going forward, if those opportunities present, that’ll be David and I talking about it and always looking to put the best lineup on the field, given the day, given the situation.
“If that happens again in the future, that’ll be further discussed between David and I.”
The Red Sox could use Ortiz at first base for Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees, as they’ll have four days off starting Monday because of the Major League Baseball All-Star break. It wasn’t something Farrell was ready to etch in stone Friday, though. The skipper hasn’t discussed the idea with Ortiz.
The Red Sox’s hope, of course, is that the Ortiz-first base debate goes away naturally with Napoli returning to form. Napoli entered Friday hitting .192 with a .294 on-base percentage and 78 strikeouts in 299 plate appearances, but the club isn’t giving up on the veteran first baseman just yet.
“Ideally, it’ll be Nap,” Farrell said of how he plans to approach first base each day moving forward. “But in the current situation, as he was scuffling at the plate, this was an opportunity to get an alignment that I felt like on that day was our best lineup. Nothing more to it.”
Would it have been easier for Ortiz to offer a generic “whatever’s best for the team” response when asked about playing first base? You bet. But one shouldn’t read too much into his “hell no” response, either.
Everything’s peachy on Yawkey Way.
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images