First things first, Ortiz is in position to hit


BOSTON - For the second time in the last three games, David Ortiz found himself in the unfamiliar position of playing first base in an American League game.

It may happen again Sunday, too, what with the Red Sox looking for alternatives to Mike Napoli, while simultaneously looking to upgrade their outfield defense by having Alehjando De Aza in left with Hanley Ramirez moving to Ortiz's customary DH slot.

Still, where Ortiz plays is secondary to how he hits, as he demonstrated Wednesday night. Ortiz swatted a curveball into the Monster Seats for a two-run homer and later added a double to the triangle, leading to another run in the Red Sox' 6-3 victory over the Miami Marlins.

"He's been swinging the bat well and having better swings against left-handers,'' said John Farrell. "But it was good to see him drive the ball the other way out of the ballpark on a breaking ball. And then the ground-rule double. There was a lot of hard contact from him.''

After the Sox had taken a 2-0 lead in the fourth on a groundout and an infield single, Ortiz stayed back on a curveball from Tom Koehler and sent into the first few rows above The Wall for his fourth homer in the past 10 games and 15th of the season.

"I just react to pitches,'' he said. "I'm a natural pull hitter. I'm not an opposite-field hitter. Whenever I can hit it the other way, I hit it the other way.''

Ortiz again made it clear that, at 39, he doesn't enjoy the rigors of playing first base regularly. Some quirks in the schedule this week -- with off days Monday and again Thursday -- allowed the Sox to play him there twice in three games, while having the luxury of giving him a day to recover each time.

But as a regular assignment?

"Hell no,'' cracked Ortiz with a laugh. "We'll see how that goes. I'm too old for that, man. I like to have my focus on hitting. I haven't played first base [regularly] in a long time. I know these past couple of days, they want to make their lineup look different. But I know my boy Nap is going to bounce back and do what he normally does. It's just a matter of time.''


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