The most striking thing about today’s lineup is where David Ortiz is batting. Manager Terry Francona dropped Ortiz, mired in a 4-for-41 slump with no extra base hits, to seventh. Ortiz has not started a game batting seventh since 2003 – today is the first day Francona penciled Ortiz’s name No. 7.
“I talked to David this morning,” Francona said. “Sometimes you get to a time in the year when you ask guys to look past their own personal, you know. Let’s just do everything in our power to do everything we can. We’ve kind of been on Mikey Lowell a little, and he’s been nothing but a pro. We’re just trying to put the best lineup we can out there. But I did talk to David about it. He’s OK.”
Before the Sox stretched and took batting practice, Ortiz had a long chat with mental performance coach Don Kalkstein in a room adjacent to the Red Sox clubhouse. Ortiz was asked his thoughts about the move down.
“Hitting like (expletive), that’s why,” Ortiz said.
Was he upset?
“Not at all. Why should I be?”
Could he pinpoint something wrong with his hitting?
“Not at all. I wish I could.”
The recent slump has brought to mind the drought he started the year with. This slump, Francona said, is not entirely or the same as his year-beginning struggle.
“I don’t know that it’s completely similar or that it’s completely dissimilar,” Francona said. “Guys hit the way they hit. I think there’s always more than what the numbers [are].
“We hit a streak where, like in Baltimore, we swung it great, he was the only one who didn’t. We move on to New York and get where nobody swings, and he’s in the middle of that mix. Sometimes it just happens. He hit some balls on the nose. He didn’t hit some balls on the nose. Sometimes when you get in a little bit of a funk, if you can catch a break sometimes, that doesn’t assure you’re going to get out of it, but it can help you get out of it. And he didn’t do that. That didn’t help.
“We’re just trying to protect him, where at the same time, if he’s not right in the middle, because these other guys look like they’re starting to swing it better, take advantage of that, too. He’s down there batting seventh. They know who he is. I think they still have to pitch him.”
The other striking thing is that Jacoby Ellsbury is out and Josh Reddick is batting leadoff. Ellsbury is fine; Francona just wanted to give him a day off, as he did yesterday with Dustin Pedroia.
“He really needs it,” Francona said. “He actually swung the bat pretty well yesterday. But I think he’s a little tired. We need to be smart enough regardless of who we’re playing to get a guy a day when he needs it. And with Reddick, get his bat in there, he might get three hits.”