Ortiz may not face glove test in Philly
It might not be a given that David Ortiz will break out his first baseman's glove over the weekend. When the Red Sox travel to Philadelphia for an interleague series, Ortiz could get a game at first, if the Sox choose to give Mike Lowell a rest and move Kevin Youkilis to third. But it's not assured.
And it certainly wouldn't be as a way to take Ortiz's mind off hitting, as has been suggested as a remedy for a slump that might just be lifting. With Ortiz's third homer of the season coming in the second inning last night, he now has a seven-game hitting streak, and two homers in his last three games.
"We're trying to win games," manager Terry Francona said. "We want to put our best hitters, our best defense [on the field]. What do you do with Youk? We've got a guy that's won the Gold Glove that I would have a hard time saying, 'Well, we're not going to play our Gold Glove first baseman 'cause I wanted to take David's mind off of his struggles.' That doesn't make a lot of sense to me."
Ortiz said only, "I'm not talking anymore. Not for a while."
That might change, with Ortiz's bat getting a bit hotter, but his .198 average doesn't exactly call out for a need to sit either Lowell, who's hovering around .300, or Youkilis, who's batting above that.
Though Francona emphasized that he didn't know the pitching matchups for the weekend, and didn't know what he would do about Ortiz, he did say, "To get his mind off [hitting] wouldn't be the reason. Whether we're trying to rest somebody, day game after night game, who's pitching, we'll have a chance to look at all that."
"It's hard to make out a lineup about five days ahead of time."
"I bet you that's a pretty good timetable," Francona said. "We need to certainly look at him the next three days, let him have the next three days before we contemplate anything. See where his strength is.
"The one thing we don't want to do is send him out to play while he still has some rehabbing to do. I don't know if that's fair to him. But he's doing terrific."
Francona said there would be an update on Lowrie by the end of this series. Lowrie began taking batting practice Friday.
"I went down there and I hit off [Tim Bogar] in the cage," said Lowrie. "I took some good swings. I made solid contact. It felt strong. It really didn't fatigue until the last couple swings, which is good.
"I guess I reference it back to last year a lot. I think I'm referencing more to when it was the peak of the injury. This game, it's so mental.
"I think last year I was convincing myself that I wasn't injured. I played hurt, but I was convincing myself that I wasn't injured. I was concentrating more on how my wrist felt. Now I think I'm a little frustrated, because I taught myself to do that."
"I peeked up at it [the readings] a couple times," Bard said. "I use it kind of just to gauge where I am that day . . . . I reared back on that one. Pretty much all I've got. So I kind of wanted to see where I was at with that pitch."
More important was the way he pitched to the meat of the Yankee order. Bard got Mark Teixeira on a fly to left, Alex Rodriguez on a ground ball to second base, and Cano on a swinging strikeout.
Bard started Cano out with three fastballs. Then he got him flailing at a slider to end the game, a mark of how Bard's slider has improved with the grip change he instituted during the last road trip.
"I was finally able to bury one, which I was happy about," Bard said. "I've thrown some good ones, especially since I switched to that new grip. That was the first one that I really buried, especially in an 0-2 count."
Bard lowered his ERA to 0.82. "It's a good situation to get him in, let him get his feet wet," said Francona. "He threw the ball well. You can't always pick the situations, but tonight we could and I think it was good for him. He's done everything we've asked."
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com.