Red Sox manager Terry Francona had his weekly conversation with WEEI.com's "The Dale and Holley Show" this afternoon. Naturally, one of the popular topics was his decision to drop David Ortiz from third to sixth in the lineup before last night's game. Here are some of Francona's answers:
On what went into the decision to move Ortiz:
Francona: "Well, actually, a lot went into it. It's not just cut and dried. I know there has to be a day that you change the lineup, but I had thought about a lot of things for a while. I guess I feel like there's a proper way to do it. We gave him the rest in Seattle, we wanted to give him a chance to come home and see if he could get hot, and when he had some struggles against the Mets, I just didn't think [moving him then] would be a manager helping out a player. We were playing the New York Mets, we were at home, and there was a lot of spotlight on David. I didn't think that was right. I wanted to be patient, and so we waited until we got to Minnesota. And again, maybe there's no right time, but maybe this would be a little less tough on him. I was just trying to ease the burden a little bit because he carries a lot of responsibility for our offense and I feel like he was trying to shoulder a lot, and he was struggling, so maybe this will help him."
On the reasons for the change:
Francona: "Well, if he's not hitting out of the three-hold, we felt like there'd be a little less glare. As we've witnessed, he's been in the middle of a few rallies and it's not been real successful. We have some guys swinging the bat real well and a lot of times you try to bunch them together . . . there's a lot of different ways to look at this, and we have. And what I end up coming back to is if David swings the bat like David, we're a lot better team, and the batting order takes care of itself. For fans and media, it's really fun to talk about the lineup, even for me. It's part of the game. But when you're getting consistent numbers and at-bats from your guys, you can almost put them anywhere you want."
On whether it was difficult telling Ortiz he was moving to the sixth spot:
Francona: "Well, I certainly don't take any enjoyment in it. I mean, David's a very proud man and we all know that. But it wasn't just one huge meeting. I talk to David so much, and he's good about communicating to me about how he's feeling or what he's not feeling, things like that. So I guess I kind of just told him how I felt, and he said, OK. You know, I didn't expect him to jump up and down or anything like that. I expected him to try to do what he always does, and that's to be the best player he can be."
On how glad he is that Twins will leave the Metrodome for a new stadium next season:
Francona: "I can't stand this place . . . it's like pinball. Somebody hits a foul ball and you think it's going to go out of play but you're not sure, and then all of a sudden it's caroming down by the pitcher's mound, people are pointing. It's awful. . . . Next year, when we're up here and it's 33 degrees and there's snow, tell me to shut up and stop complaining. [The Metrodome is] awful. You come out of the clubhouse and you feel like you're in an office building, then you go down four flights of stairs, and all of a sudden there's a baseball field. It's tough."