Before one of the games against Tampa Bay last week, I asked Terry Francona about the idea of moving Adrian Gonzalez to another position during some of the interleague road games so David Ortiz could get in the game.
To be honest, I was looking for something interesting to write that night, so I threw out a crazy question. As expected, Francona shot down my premise. “Does Gonzy even play another position?” he said. “Where do you want him to play?”
Properly chastened, we moved on to other topics.
Now, just a few days later, Francona said the Sox are in fact discussing the idea of playing Gonzalez in right field for some interleague road games.
This would accomplish two things:
1. It gets Ortiz in the game.
2. It gets one of the unproductive Red Sox right fielders out of the game.
Nick Cafardo wrote today that it’s a bad idea. I agree. Gonzalez is too good to take any silly chances for the sake of four at-bats from Ortiz. He also is a terrific first baseman, adept at fielding bunts and cutting down runners. You want him at first base in NL parks or David?
This also greatly increases the odds of Ortiz getting hurt, too. Oh, and the right side of the field would be mighty inviting for opposing hitters. Dustin Pedroia would have to play like Kelly Leak and take everything.
The Sox have nine consecutive interleague road games. Six are against the Pirates and Astros. With all due respect to the Pirates and Astros, the Sox should be able to win at least four of those games without Ortiz in the starting lineup.
The three games in Philadelphia will obviously be a greater challenge. But a 5-4 record in those nine games is not going to derail the season. Nor would 4-5 for that matter.
When you elect to keep a one-dimensional player on the roster like Ortiz, this is the price you pay. His job is to stay as fresh as he can, pinch hit once a day and get through it.
The Red Sox are in first place, not third. Desperate times require desperate measures, not good times.
That all said, my guess is the Sox try it twice. Once Francona admits they’re talking about something, they usually do it. Otherwise, what would be the point of admitting it?
Gonzalez is certainly capable of catching a fly ball and if Ortiz hits a home run while playing first base, everybody will look good.
But if either one of them the gets hurt . . .