It doesn’t appear the Red Sox are abandoning ship on David Ortiz. The slugger, who declined comment to reporters a few minutes ago, took extra batting practice this afternoon and will sit out tonight’s game with lefty Matt Harrison pitching for Texas.
With C.J. Wilson going tomorrow, Terry Francona did not rule out Ortiz sitting two consecutive days, but he claimed he hadn’t made that decision.
“I don’t know, we’ll see. I honestly don’t think it makes sense to make out the lineup for the next day at 4 o’clock,” Francona said.
Francona said he phoned Ortiz yesterday morning and also spoke to him this afternoon in his office.
“We actually talked a few minutes ago,” Francona said. “I called him yesterday. It wasn’t to talk about pinch hitting, but I just wanted to talk to him. Because we haven’t had a roster for the last week where we could do anything. We’ve been a little bit behind the eight ball. And last night we were, too.”
Asked whether Ortiz has been upset with getting pinch hit for, Francona said, “He didn’t fight me on it. I don’t know what was said last night. I wouldn’t expect anybody when we pinch hit for them to come up to me and give me a high-five. He’s shown a lot of pride. He’s been an unbelievable player here I just wanted him to know we care about all of our players and we do what we think is right for our team.”
Francona thought that Ortiz is “trying to get his base where he can stay back His hands are following his body. When you have your base, everything goes in sync. He really wants to try and stay on that back leg and driving the ball to left-center. If he can drive the ball to left-center, he’ll cover more of the plate.”
Francona said “there are a lot of similarities” to Ortiz’s struggles last season. When you see somebody check-swinging, they’re in between.
Francona disagreed with the premise that Ortiz is being thrown nothing but fastballs.
“That was last night. I don’t agree with that assessment. I think every night, depending on who is pitching, that’s different. Different teams attack differently,” he said.
Francona said he hoped to “strike some balance and put a lineup out there that can win.”
“All things considered, having [Jason Varitek] catch tonight makes sense. And he’s swinging the bat great to boot. I wanted Mikey Lowell to face this guy (2 for 3 against Harrison),” Francona said.
On Victor Martinez: “It was a difficult night….Let him have a good work day and don’t have the game hanging over your head. This way you can work and kind of take a breath. He swung the bat good last night. I think he cares a lot. We all do…..As a catcher they’re always going to lose at-bats if they’re good at what they do …because you’re baby-sitting the pitcher, there are things that go into it, the wear and tear of a long game. Anyone who cares about their staff, it’s always a part of the game. Which is why what [Joe] Mauer does is extra special. It’s not just the physical grind it’s a mental grind. They never have the opportunity to come in after an inning and just prepare for that at-bat.
Concerning the stolen base tally – 9 for 9 against Martinez last night, “There’s a lot of reasons for that. I don’t think you’ll ever hear a pitcher second-guess or not want to throw to him. They all enjoy his enthusiasm. He works hard to run the game right.”
Here’s the Sox lineup: