McAdam: Ortiz just being realistic, not selfish


BOSTON - David Ortiz isn't being selfish; he's being pragmatic

Ortiz has made it clear that he's neither interested -- nor necessarily able - to play first base on a regular basis.

To find a season in which Ortiz reached double-figures in games played at first, you have to go back to back to 2006.

For the most part, Ortiz has played a handful of road interleague games at the position -- and no more. Instead, he has focused on DH duties, and done them well. The argument can be made that Ortiz, in fact, is the greatest DH since the "position" was introduced more than 40 years ago.

This week, Ortiz has played two games at first, both times, with the option of getting a day of recovery immediately after. In all likelihood, he'll play the final game of the first half at first base, too -- with the All-Star break immediately following.

Until Mike Napoli figures things out, or, more likely, the Red Sox settle on another regular at first, Ortiz can continue to play the occasional game there. That allows the Sox to get Hanley Ramirez out of left field and upgrade their defense in left with Alejandro De Aza taking over.

But for those who scream that Ortiz is being selfish and/or lazy by not volunteering to play first every day, think again. At 39 1/2, Ortiz simply isn't capable of playing a position on a daily basis. Few players approaching 40 are.

When you haven't been an everyday position player for better than a dozen years, it's an unwise idea to attempt to resume doing it as you come up on your 40th birthday.

It's better for Ortiz to focus on what he's always done best -- slug the baseball. After a slow start, he's come on since the start of June with a .348 OBP and a .513 slugging percentage, combining for an .861 OPS. He's belted six homers in the last 15 games.

Ortiz far more valuable as the Red Sox' cleanup hitter than he as their semi-regular first baseman. That should remain the focus.

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