While the numbers clearly favor David Ortiz in tonight’s matchup against Andy Pettitte (rather than Mike Lowell), that wasn’t the only reason manager Terry Francona chose to keep his normal designated hitter in the lineup.
As he said this afternoon, “My opinion, tonight would have been a good night to play Lowell. It would have been a bad night not to play David. And, since they won’t give us two DHs, kind of have to make a decision.”
Asked to further explain what he meant, Francona elaborated on his decision-making process.
“Both,” he said, when asked if that had more to do with Ortiz’s numbers against Pettitte or the message it would be sending. “He’s had a lot of success against Andy and again we’re basically seven — well it’s the Yankees, so we’re nine — hours into the season. But it’s early.
“We want to have an atmosphere where guys want to do the right thing. We always talk about that. And we want them to walk up there and feel confident. I don’t want David looking over his shoulder a game and a half into the season. I was asked last night about pinch hitting for him. We’ve got a runner on second with nobody out, and a dead pull hitter up. That’s what we’re looking for, not going to send a righty up there to try to massage the ball to the right side when we have that guy up there. It just didn’t work.”
He didn’t appear bothered by the expletive-laden quotes given by Ortiz to the media last night, nor did he feel the need to address the issue with Ortiz directly. Francona said that keeping Ortiz in tonight’s lineup was a way of telling him not to look over his shoulder.
“David, for example, he drove in 99 runs last year,” Francona said. “If you didn’t play him against certain lefties, he wouldn’t have had those numbers against the righties. Facing lefthanders at times, I mean guys have to do that. Especially lefthanders, it keeps them on the ball. There are some things you get into some awfully bad habits just playing against righthanders. So it’s a little deeper than I think what people are looking at.”