Posted on August 6, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Boston Red Sox DH David Ortiz is in the final months of his farewell tour before he retires following the season. It now appears that part of that farewell tour will include a start at first base on Saturday when the team faces the Los Angeles Dodgers without the ability to use a DH. Manager John Farrell and the team have given the topic much consideration over the past few days and have decided to go ahead with Ortiz at first base against Dodgers right-handed starter Ross Stripling.
“This is one game. We totally understand the risk and reward here, but if it wasn’t signed off by all parties, particularly David, we wouldn’t even consider it,” Farrell said Friday. “You know what, games are taking on added importance. His bat in our lineup is an important one and it will be in the lineup tomorrow.”
Ortiz sat out Friday’s game with Los Angeles starting Scott Kazmir, and he’s expected to sit Sunday’s game when the Dodgers send lefty Rich Hill to the mound. However, with Bud Norris expected to land on the DL, the Dodgers are no longer throwing three lefties against the Red Sox this weekend, and will instead send Stripling to the mound, opening the door to play Ortiz at first base.
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Of his 2,356 career games, Ortiz has started just 277 games at first base. Nevertheless, Farrell said Ortiz is excited to play the field. “He wants to play, and anytime we can get that bat in the lineup, particularly against a right-handed pitcher, we’re going to put him in there,” Farrell said.
Boston’s manager mentioned the fact that Ortiz played first base during inter-league play last year as reason why the Red Sox should be comfortable with him taking the field for one game this year. Ortiz has struggled with pain in his feet and legs all reason, but Farrell insisted on Friday that “he feels good physically. The medical staff felt like he was in very good condition as far as getting on the field defensively tomorrow.”
With the season entering its final third, the Red Sox are starting to realize that every game matters, which was likely a factor in the decision to put Ortiz on the field Saturday. Boston currently holds the second wild card spot, but has just a half game lead over the Detroit Tigers. The Red Sox are also two games behind both the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays for the AL East lead and the top wild card spot. A playoff spot is far from certain for the Red Sox, and that may have pushed the team into playing Ortiz at first base on Saturday.