Ortiz to start at 1B for Red Sox in college game
FORT MYERS, Fla.—David Ortiz seemed as surprised as anybody when he found out he would be starting at first base for the Boston Red Sox on Saturday night.
"I am?" the slugger asked Friday.
New manager Bobby Valentine wants to see how Ortiz looks in the field and plans to get an early gauge.
The Red Sox begin exhibition play with a college doubleheader, with Jon Lester starting against Northeastern and then Felix Doubront pitching against Boston College at night. Both games are seven innings.
Ortiz is set to play first base against BC. The slugger is usually Boston's designated hitter and started at first base only twice last year during the regular season.
"We're starting on the wrong foot," Ortiz said, laughing. "Just wish me good luck."
The last time he played first in spring training?
"I don't remember," he said.
The Red Sox already have star Adrian Gonzalez as their regular first baseman. But Valentine says Ortiz could see more playing time there this spring.
"He's one of the first baseman," Valentine said. "Talking with Adrian and David, too, David doesn't mind playing a lot and Adrian wants to work his way into playing a lot. So I suspect they'll get innings."
Valentine said Ortiz was doing fine in the fine.
"He's moving around well in all the drills. He's a better looking first baseman than I had suspected right now," he said.
Valentine also was eager to get on the field against outside competition.
"Big games," he said, tongue in cheek after Friday's workout. "It'll be a good day for two, I'm sure."
"We're looking forward to it. Our scouting report on BC is a little better than it is on Northeastern, but we'll make due."
Either way, Valentine sees it as a chance to get into the rhythm of games.
"I love when the games come up, but I'm the guy that always feels like we need a little more time to practice," he said. "Hopefully, we can take the practice into the games a little more and get good at what we're doing. We haven't covered all the things, believe it or not. We've covered just about everything but we haven't covered them succinctly enough to really make them game-ready. So, hopefully everything will be OK."
Among the other lineup changes: Nick Punto will be playing second base and batting fifth against BC. Punto, who was acquired as a free agent in the offseason, has just five plate appearances in the fifth spot during his 10-year major league career.
Alex Hassan, a Red Sox outfield prospect from the Boston suburb of Milton, Mass., will be serving as DH in against BC. Hassan, who started last season at Double-A before earning a promotion to Triple-A, has no illusions about supplanting Ortiz from his regular position.
"Oh no, not at all," said Hassan, a 20th-round pick out of Duke in 2009. "I'm excited about playing and just getting the opportunity to go out there and hopefully have some good at-bats."