By Sean McAdam
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- For years, dating as far back to Adrian Gonzalez's time with the Texas Rangers, general manager Theo Epstein had his eye on the sweet-swinging first baseman.
Sunday, he finally landed him, albeit without a contract extension -- yet.
And now, Epstein might be going back to the future again.
After the 2003 season, when the Sox were close to obtaining Alex Rodriguez from the Texas Rangers, their plan was to turn around and deal off incumbent shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. The Sox had a contingency deal in place with the Chicago White Sox that would have sent Garciaparra to the White Sox in exchange for a package that included Magglio Ordonez.
Seven years later, their interest in Ordonez hasn't diminished apparently.
A baseball source said the Sox are interested in the free agent outfielder as an answer to their left field vacancy. The Sox would like a righthanded bat to play left, to help balance out a lineup that, especially in the aftermath of the Gonzalez deal, leans lefthanded. Jacoby Ellsbury, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz are also lefthanded, giving the Sox as many as four lefties in the top six in the batting order.
Ordonez, who turns 37 next month, missed half of last season with the Tigers because of an ankle injury. The Tigers have shown an interest in bringing him back and the Phillies are another team which has talked about him.
In 84 games last year, Ordonez posted a .303.378474 line with an OPS of .852.
Just as importantly, he mashed lefthanded pitching last season, with a .371.457.714 line. Essentially, Ordonez would give the Sox what Victor Martinez gave them last year against lefties.
Ordonez could play left field and also take some DH at-bats from Ortiz against lefties. Ortiz struggled miserably against lefties last year.
It's unknown what kind of money Ordonez might be seeking, but he's coming off a mammoth conract with the Tigers that paid him 75 million over five years.
The Tigers declined to pick up a 15 million option for 2011, and because of the ankle injury, Ordonez failed to meet at-bat and games started requirements that would have vested his 2011 option.
Getting a deal done may come down to whether Ordonez and agent Scott
Boras are willing to lower his demands considerably as Ordonez gets into
his late 30s.
With the presence of Mike Cameron and the presence of Ryan Kalish, the Sox might be comfortable with Ordonez being spotted in the lineup.