David Ortiz

Red Sox notebook: Why David Ortiz isn't starting; Justin Masterson takes step forward

Rob Bradford
June 10, 2015 - 3:23 pm

BALTIMORE -- The biggest topic of conversation prior to the Red Sox' game against the Orioles on Wednesday night was undoubtedly the absence of David Ortiz in the starting lineup. Prior to the media's meeting with manager John Farrell, Ortiz was approached by reporters at his locker. The designated hitter offered very little insight as to his thoughts on starting on the bench against Orioles lefty Wei-Yen Chen. "I'€™m not playing today. That'€™s all. I don'€™t know what to tell you," he said. When asked to elaborate, Ortiz responded, "I'€™m just no playing, that'€™s it." He then continued, "That'€™s something you'€™ve got to ask the manager. I'€™m not the manager here. I'€™m just a player, and I do what I get to be told. John told me yesterday I'€™m not playing today, so I'€™m here." A few minutes later, sitting in the visitors dugout, Farrell's explanation for the lineup change -- which had Hanley Ramirez starting at designated hitter -- wasn't a surprise. Although Ortiz had respectable numbers against Chen (8-for-26, .308), the DH's overall statistics vs. lefties have been difficult to overlook. He came into Wednesday hitting just .114 (8-for-70) without a single walk. "Left-hander on the mound and for the time being, we'€™re trying to get David going against some lefties," said Farrell, who informed Ortiz of the decision after Tuesday night's game. "When you look at what he'€™s doing against righties it'€™s exactly the same as what he did a year ago when he was probably 20 percent of our overall offense. And yet we'€™re trying to get him back on track against some left-handers." Ortiz has been a legitimate weapon against righties, managing a .304 batting average and .961 OPS against such pitchers since May 15 (18 games). But over that same span against southpaws, the DH is just 3-for-31. "I can respect his career path and when he gets everyday at-bats that'€™s probably a lot easier to deal with," Farrell said. "But David is a pro and he understands there is some work to be done to get back to the normal levels against left-handed pitching." -- It looks as if Justin Masterson has made his final rehab start. The righty -- who his recovering from a fatigued shoulder -- turned in the best of his three tune-ups while pitching for Triple-A Pawtucket, allowing just one run on two hits over six innings in a 75-pitch outing. "He was much more consistent in the strike zone," Farrell noted. "Velocity was still in the mid to upper 80'€™s, but the action to his sinker, he got a number of swings and misses. He used probably the same distribution of fastball and slider that we'€™ve seen here. So we'€™ll check with him when we return to Boston and we may have a decision to be made here." As for what role Masterson fills now, that, according to the Red Sox manager, is yet to be determined. "It'€™s best right now to sit with Justin and collectively walk through some things that are certainly present right now," Farrell said.