David Ortiz

David Ortiz: 'I'm too old' to play first base

July 08, 2015 - 8:14 pm
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Without Mike Napoli's presence in the lineup, the Red Sox have had to make adjustments, both at the plate and in the field. One of these adjustments isn't a popular one for a certain nine-time All-Star. "I've got to keep on playing first base?" David Ortiz asked after Wednesday night's game. "Damn. I don't know if that's going to happen." Ortiz has played two of the Red Sox' last three games at first base while Napoli recovers from the disease that has infected his bat, and he is not happy about it. When asked if he wants to keep up his new role as a position player, Ortiz offered an especially candid response. "Hell no." The 39-year-old doesn't look as comfortable in the field as he once did. For his career, Ortiz has racked up a more than respectable .990 career fielding percentage. But now, Ortiz looks increasingly uncomfortable in this role, resorting to icing his ankles while awaiting his turn to bat in Wednesday's win over the Marlins. "I'm too old for that man," Ortiz said. "I like doing my focusing on hitting. I haven't played first base in too long and I know that these past couple of days, they want to make the lineup look different or whatever, but I know my boy [Napoli] is going to bounce back and do what he normally does. It's just a matter of time." Ortiz almost seems to be pleading for Napoli's return for the lineup. Unfortunately for the venerable slugger, the Red Sox have been doing just fine without him. Napoli hasn't seen action since Independence Day and the Sox have won their last three games in his stead. With an .074/.167/.111 slash line in his last nine games and continued work off the field to turn things around, it wouldn't be unreasonable to assume Napoli won't see his name on the lineup card for at least a few more days. Fortunately for Ortiz, he will get a much-deserved day off on Thursday before the team clashes with the Yankees on Friday. He is coming off of a slump-busting performance in which he went 2-for-3 and clubbed a two-run opposite-field bomb over the Monster. Ortiz ended up adding a ground rule double as well, which put him in elite company alongside Hank Aaron as one of five major league players to hit at least 481 longballs and 561 doubles for his career. "He's been swinging the bat well and better swings against left-handers," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Ortiz. "It's good to see him drive the ball out of the ballpark the other way. He gets a breaking ball from [Tom] Koehler and then the line drive ground-rule double. There was a lot of hard contact from him tonight. Solid outing for him." Aside from catching up on some television, Ortiz said he would use his off day to prepare for the upcoming series with the Yankees. The three-game weekend set will have huge implications for the AL East pennant race going into the All-Star break as the Yankees hold a tenuous two-game lead in the division, while the Red Sox lurk just five games behind them, having made up two games in the last four days. "I think we're coming into a good situation where we're all playing well," Ortiz said. "... It's good. When things are going well, it's easier for a player to walk into that [series]." Red Sox-Yankees matchups will always be earmarked with a special significance, but this one will be especially pivotal. Just a short time ago, pundits were forecasting a massive fire sale from Sox management after the team limped to a 33-43 record through June 27. "It's a long season," Ortiz said. "You can't get down because the first couple of months everybody struggles. You play through the season. This is a winning ballclub. I know the way things played out the first couple of months, it's not what people expected. It's not what we expected. We get prepared to play the game and get it done right. ... The other team, they play to win, they play better than you and things happen. "But we have a good ballclub and we have guys that never stop working. We have guys capable of turning things around and we're finally seeing the light."