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Francona explains dropping Ortiz in order

Posted by Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff  May 26, 2009 05:31 PM

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MINNEAPOLIS - Red Sox manager Terry Francona said today he hopes moving David Ortiz from third to sixth in the lineup will not be permanent, but he hopes the move takes some pressure off the designated hitter so he can regain his once prominent stroke.

"It's probably a little anticlimactic for me because I've been thinking about doing some things. I have to step back and realize that it is a big deal. I think so much about our team that when Millsy (bench coach Brad Mills) and I were walking over (to the ballpark) I realized that when you post a change like that there will be a reaction," Francona said.

"When we came back from Seattle, because David sat for three days, I wanted to get him back in there to see if we could get him hot. Then when it didn't look like it was going well last week I didn't think it was in his best interest to do it at home against the Mets. That's almost placing blame on someone and I wouldn't want to do that.

"If I'm to be accused of being slow on the trigger I don't mind being accused of that," Francona said.

Francona said he spoke to Ortiz this afternoon but he wouldn't provide details.

We were waiting for Ortiz to speak about the situation, but he told the Globe's Amalie Benjamin, who asked whether he was speaking about his situation before the game "After I go deep tonight."

Ortiz was spending part of the pregame playing cards with Julio Lugo.

"We talked a little bit when he got here yesterday," Francona said. "He knew he wasn't going to play, but I told him I was going to drop him down, I didn't know where."

"I don't want to go into everything because I don't think that's fair to him. There's probably not a day that goes by where we don't talk. I just want to make sure he understands the respect we have for what he's done and what we think he's going to do. Sometimes you have to remind people of that. I said this last week, I don't want him to think he's on an island (by himself) or anything like that."

Asked about taking pressure off Ortiz, Francona said, "That would be the hope. So he feels he doesn't have to carry the team, because there have been times that I've said it publicly that we're going to jump on his back and let him carry us for a couple of weeks. We'll need him and I don't want to just shove him down there. I at least don't want to be a hindrance to him getting hot."

"The best course of action is to let players play and the good ones will rise to their level," Francona said.

Asked whether the goal would be to get him back hitting No. 3, Francona said, "The goal is not like tomorrow to get him back to No. 3. When he's swinging the bat and he's hitting third, I think we're a better team. That's why he's hit there the last few years. All things being equal, yeah, I think we're a better team with David hitting third."

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