Ortiz to play first in interleague play

Ortiz to play first in interleague play
May 17, 2012, 10:50 pm
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Red Sox begin interleague play Friday, which means Bobby Valentine will have to get creative with his lineup in order to get playing time and at-bats for DH David Ortiz.
With no DH allowed in games played in National League parks, Valentine hinted that Ortiz will play first base -- with Adrian Gonzalez shifting from first to right field -- at least once in the three-game weekend series with the Philadelphia Phillies.
"We've talked and we've thought through it,'' said Valentine. "You'll see him in the field. We'll see (about how often he plays).''
That will require an adjustment for both players. Ortiz hasn't played first base since Grapefruit League games in spring training, while Gonzalez hasn't been in the outfield since last June.
"I think they're both capable (of making the adjustment),'' said Valentine. "Adrian is playing (first) every day and asking him to run around in the outfield during this stretch, it might be much. I think David can catch it at first.
"But then you have (other) plays, you know, throwing with the runner in the (base) line... things that could happen. I don't think David's really familiar with pop-ups, either.''
Like his predecessor, Terry Francona, it seems as if Valentine will limit Gonzalez's exposure in the outfield to a single game, not wanting to risk any more.
"Maybe one,'' said Ortiz when asked how much he'll play first this weekend.
Asked if playing there during spring training will help the transition, he said flatly: "No,'' before adding with a chuckle, "I'm fine. No fear.''
The biggest adjustment, Ortiz said, was managing expectations
"It's not something I do often,'' he said. "So I try not to put pressure on myself. I'll try to have good communication with (Dustin Pedroia). I just don't want to be in the wrong place when it comes to catching a fly ball or catching a ground ball. I try to mark my territory, where I can be, and after that, let the guys who are out there every day take over. Keep it simple.
"I've played first base before. It's not like I've forgot. I know how bad you can mess things up over there, too. So, like I said, I'll try to keep it simple. I'll try to read the ball off the bat the best I can and make sure I'm not in Pedroia's way.''
Ortiz also saluted Gonzalez for willingly going to the outfield in order to create playing time for Ortiz.
"It's unbelievable, man,'' said Ortiz. "You're talking about a Gold Glove first baseman leaving his position for someone else to play. You don't see that too often. But Gonzo's a team player. He did it last year and he'll do it this year again.''