David Ortiz has an opportunity to eclipse the 500-home run plateau this weekend, but he’ll have just two games to do so.
Acting Boston Red Sox manager Torey Lovullo told reporters in Tampa Bay that while Ortiz will be in the lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Rays, he plans to keep the slugger on the bench for one of the three-game set’s final two contests.
A day off will be a way of keeping Ortiz healthy and fresh, the interim skipper said, especially with this series being played on Tropicana Field’s unforgiving turf surface. The Rays also will send left-handers to the mound Saturday and Sunday, and Ortiz typically fares much better against righties.
“What I will say is that the conversations with David are ongoing,” Lovullo told reporters before Friday’s game, as aired on “Red Sox First Pitch.” “I’ve tried to maintain a consistent line of communication with him, because he is chasing something that’s pretty special. We’re all caught up in that moment, and sometimes I need to pull back and not get caught up so much in it.
“If we lose David because we’re forcing him to play and he’s not wanting to play, we’re going to lose him, and he’s going to have no shot at (reaching 500). So, it’s a constant line of communication. We have the idea that he’s going to play two of three games here. Which two, we’re not sure. But we’re going to be smart about this as we move forward with him, and it’s all about how he’s feeling and where he’s at with his body. And he knows his body very well.”
Ortiz entered the series with 498 career home runs. He also has enjoyed success in the past against Friday’s Rays starter, Chris Archer, going 7-for-20 with two home runs against the 26-year-old right-hander.
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images