Promotion for Papi: Up to fifth in lineup

May, 15, 2010
DETROIT -- David Ortiz got a promotion Saturday night, but Red Sox manager Terry Francona said it had more to do with Tigers lefties Dontrelle Willis and Phil Coke than Ortiz's pair of long homers in Friday's win over Detroit.

Ortiz hit sixth on Friday, one spot behind J.D. Drew, but when Saturday's lineup came out, Ortiz was up to fifth. Adrian Beltre had moved from seventh to sixth, with Drew in the seventh spot.

"With a lefty starting and Coke sitting out there in the 'pen, I wanted to split up David and J.D.," Francona said during his pregame meeting with the media. "I could have just easily had J.D. fifth and David seventh, but this was the way I decided to go."

If Ortiz and Drew had stayed together in the order, it would have meant they would be followed by five straight right-handed hitters.

"I know that [Tigers manager] Jim [Leyland] and I are friends, but I'm pretty sure that he would have been happy to take advantage of a lineup that looked like that," Francona said. "This will make things a little tougher for him."

Moving Beltre up was also an easy decision, as he has seven hits in nine career at-bats against Willis, including a homer.

Of course, Ortiz's mere presence in the lineup against a left-handed starter is a bit of a surprise. After striking out twice Friday against Detroit's Brad Thomas, Ortiz is hitting just .158 against southpaws this season, with eight strikeouts in 19 at-bats.

For Francona, though, those struggles are balanced out by his .333 batting average in May.

"He put two awesome swings on the ball last night," Francona said of Ortiz's homers, which traveled a combined 844 feet. "At this point, the smart thing for me is to make sure I don't get in the way of him getting hot."

If Ortiz stays hot, Francona will have to find a way to get regular at-bats for both him and Mike Lowell. That, though, isn't a problem that will keep him up at night.

"I can think of a lot of worse issues to have," he said. "It's always nice to have to decide between two guys that are hitting well, instead of trying to find enough guys to fill up the scorecard."



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