Ortiz taking the field (very) early this year

Ortiz taking the field (very) early this year
March 2, 2012, 7:35 pm
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Most seasons, David Ortiz doesn't break out his first baseman's glove until late May or June, when interleague play begins and American League teams can't use the DH in road games.

But there will be no waiting this spring. When the Sox play their first exhibition games of the spring Saturday, Ortiz will be the first baseman in the nightcap of a college doubleheader.

"I am?'' asked a surprised Oritz when questioned about playing first this early. "Oh, expletive. We're starting on the wrong foot. Just wish me luck.''

Asked if he could recall the last time he played first in an exhibition game, Ortiz shook his head.

"I don't remember,'' he said.

Manager Bobby Valentine said having Ortiz at first so early was more out of early-spring necessity.

"He's one of the first basemen,'' shrugged Valentine. "And talking with Adrian Gonzalez and David, too, David doesn't mind playing a lot and Adrian wants to work his way into playing a lot. So I suspect Ortiz will get innings.

"He's moving along well in all the drills. He's a better looking first baseman than I suspected, right now."

The only other actual first baseman in camp is Lars Anderson, who is unlikely to make the team's Opening Day roster.

Valentine could potentially utilize utilityman Nick Punto at first. Punto has played six positions in the big leagues -- third base, shortstop, second base and all three outfield spots -- but never first base.

Still, Valentine believes he could handle it if called upon.

"Nick's willing and able to do most anything,'' said Valentine. "He's been terrific in what he's done and what he says he can do.''

Another option is third baseman Kevin Youkilis, who was the team's starting first baseman for a number of seasons before switching back to third last year.