Blog Entry

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

Posted on: April 8, 2010 12:02 am
Edited on: April 8, 2010 12:15 am

The last thing the Red Sox need this early in the season is a full-blown crisis with designated hitter David Ortiz, but they're teetering on the brink of one.

Yes, it would have made sense on paper for manager Terry Francona to use right-handed hitter Mike Lowell as his designated hitter against Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte on Wednesday instead of Ortiz, who staggered into the game 0-for-7 and already is showing signs of stress by profanely lashing out at reporters after Tuesday's loss.

But Francona isn't managing on paper and, right now, he's not even managing for one night.

He's managing for the rest of the season. And one man he cannot lose in 2010 is Ortiz.

At least, not until an apparently deteriorating Ortiz reaches the point of no return.

And two or three games into a season is not that point.

One month ago, during a conversation in Francona's spring training office, we talked about the possibility of Boston using Lowell as a DH in certain situations. You know, platooning with Ortiz.

"I really don't want to look at [Ortiz] like that," Francona said. "He's our full-time DH. For us to be as good as we want to be, if he is the full-time DH, we're probably a better team.

"If we ever got to the point where he wasn't, something went wrong. That's not what we're looking for."

That's especially not what the Red Sox are looking for two and three games into the season.

Ortiz was hitting .367 against Pettitte over his career when Wednesday night's game started. Lowell was at .345 against Pettitte.

Ortiz struggled badly against lefties last year, going .212 against them with a .298 on-base percentage. The Sox were -- and are -- hoping that those numbers are simply a manifestation of his overall struggles last year and nothing more. Career, including last year, Ortiz is hitting .261 with a .337 OBP against lefties.

"You get into some bad habits, and he was trying to cheat to get to pitches anyway ... you start doing that with lefties, now it opens up both sides of the plate," Francona said this spring. "Because David, I think, career-wise his numbers certainly are lower against left-handers, but they were still dangerous.

"If he's hitting, he's going to hit. We usually pick a guy who he doesn't see well off of to give him a day off, anyway. That's not a problem.

"But we don't want to turn him into a platoon player."

Starting Lowell in place of Ortiz on Wednesday maybe would have made sense, given what has to be considered an alarming start for Ortiz (even if he doesn't see it that way).

But that would have sent a distressing signal to Ortiz, who could easily read that as an early vote of no confidence, and it would have needlessly fueled the Ortiz/Lowell platoon DH debate that is in the beginning stages.

"In my opinion, tonight would have been a good night to play Lowell," Francona told reporters in Boston before the game. "It would have been a bad night not to play David.

"Since they won't give us two DH's, I kind of have to make a decision."

You bet that decision will be to back Ortiz, and to do everything he can think of to get Big Papi going.

As it was, Ortiz went 1-for-4 in Wednesday's 3-1, 10-inning loss. He singled home Boston's only run, but he struck out twice and grounded out in his other three at-bats.

He's now hitting .091 for the season, and while he's even losing support in Fenway Park, he's right, it's still way too early to render any final judgments.

And Francona is right in that Wednesday night would have been a bad night not to play Ortiz.

As the manager said one month ago, if the Red Sox reach the point where Ortiz isn't the full-time DH, then something went wrong.

Three games into the season, it's a little early for things to go permanently wrong.

Isn't it?


Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: April 8, 2010 3:30 pm

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

If the red sox should have traded big papi when they had the chance. I have a horrible
feeling that he will never be even close to the player he was before. Now the red sox's are out
a big clutch bat and out millions of dollars. This situation is going to turn into big drama for the red sox
soon if they don't find some solution. Could even ruin any chance of a world series in bean-town.

Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: April 8, 2010 2:47 pm

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

I take that bet! Who's going to want an old slugger who can't play the field, can't run and can't hit? You have to eliminate the NL teams because Ortiz doesn't own a glove and what team in the AL would take him?

On another note, it was no secret heading into the season that the Sox needed another big bat. I can't imagine they were expecting Ortiz to have a 40 homer, 120 RBI year. V-Mart is a nice power guy and so is Youk, but you need a pure slugger and between age, steroids and the loss of Manny, Ortiz hasn't been that guy in the past two, now three years.

I understand it's all about pitching and defense for Boston this year, but they're going to need to score some runs. And their bullpen isn't as strong as in past years to keep them in all these close games. You add in Lackey, Beckett and Dice-K who are all injury-prone, this could be a potential disaster year for Boston.

Since: Dec 19, 2007
Posted on: April 8, 2010 2:18 pm

Who cares?

Really though...why is it that every time I go to everyone is freaking out about david ortiz...who cares...print an article about someone else for once it's pathetic how much you focus on the sox

Since: Apr 10, 2007
Posted on: April 8, 2010 1:42 pm

Big Sloppy

Keep him in the lineup.  Keep denying that any of this has to do with coming off the roids last year.  Ignore his average, his age, his slowing bat speed - oh, yeah, and the fact that he can't hit in years when he's not on the juice.

$100 says he gets traded before the end of the year.  He's too big of a distraction, and honestly, you can only go so far with no skill.

Since: Nov 5, 2007
Posted on: April 8, 2010 1:28 pm

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

I'm about as big a yankees fans as you'll find. But man, Miller you must just be looking for something to write about.  3 days into the season you're already implying Ortiz should be sitting down, if not even for just certain situations.  3 games in! At least wait a few weeks before you start saying it's the end of the world.

Do you use a magic 8 ball to choose garbage to write about?

Since: Aug 4, 2007
Posted on: April 8, 2010 12:16 pm

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

The situation is not secret. The Redsox need a game changing big Bat in their line up. Even if David Ortiz is 2/3's of what he once was the Redsox still need someone who can hit the ball out of the park. If the Sox dont get someone who can drive in runs in the middle of the line up they will lose more and more close 1 run games like they did last night to the Yankees. Noone is rooting more for Big Papi then me but its tough to watch as he looks nothing like the Big Papi of old. Ortiz has so much pressure on him between the expectations of the Boston fans and the media. Even if the go to Lowell as DH or platoon Ortiz and Lowell they still wont correct the problem. They dont have one player who can hit more the 30 HRs. The Yanks won hitting HRs that came from guys that arent even their big power hitters.

Since: May 19, 2009
Posted on: April 8, 2010 11:38 am

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

Boston already has 2 Big Babies, Glen Davis and Kevin Garnett. Ortiz will make it a 3rd.

Since: Aug 16, 2008
Posted on: April 8, 2010 2:13 am

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

Well Mr. Miller, it is too early to make judgements or push panic buttons, but one wonders whether Mr. Ortiz knows that.  If he is trying to deflect criticism and to state that everything is okay, the press conference on Tuesday belies both.  The fans, his teammates, Tito might not have concerns.....but it seems as if David does.  For a man as gregarious and emdia savvy as Papi is, the interview indicates much more concern and frustration then an one for eleven start should indicate.  Teixeira is 0-12, answering questions about a slow start and alternating between mundane vanilla quotes, or jesting at his own slow start.  Papi, the Red Sox, and his teammates would be much better off, had he follwoed suit.  Ortiz had a good second half, the interview more than a handfull at bats is a sad relection where his head is at for the start of this season.

Since: Feb 11, 2008
Posted on: April 8, 2010 12:23 am

Boston's delicate Ortiz situation

Three games into the season, it's a little early for things to go permanently wrong.

Isn't it?

Ridicously Wrong, Big Papi, has turned into Big Baby, a couple of the days into the season, agreed it's a long lay-off , fans and reporters trying to project with an inane amount of games played and project for the season. Everything seems to be overkill. Let's settle down folks , it's a long season.

 Maybe that's exactly what Big Papi was frustrated about, yo Francona take a few deep breaths...

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or