David Ortiz will play first base for Red Sox against Dodgers

ByDan Arritt ESPN logo
Saturday, August 6, 2016

LOS ANGELES--Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is set to start at first base Saturday for the first time in more than a year, manager John Farrell announced before Friday's series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ortiz, who has said he'll retire after this season, has appeared in all 99 games this season as a designated hitter or pinch hitter. The 40-year-old veteran of 20 seasons came into Friday ranked fifth in the AL with a .311 batting average, second with 87 RBIs and second in all of MLB with a 1.021 OPS.

Farrell said he spoke to Ortiz about the possibility of playing first base after Thursday's extra-inning victory at the Seattle Mariners and again Friday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. Ortiz has started just 277 of his 2,356 games at first base, but was eager to take the field, Farrell said.

"He wants to play, and anytime we can get that bat in the lineup, particularly against a right-handed pitcher, we're going to put him in there," Farrell said.

The Dodgers are scheduled to start left-handers Friday and Sunday against the Red Sox, keeping Hanley Ramirez in the starting lineup at first base, but right-hander Ross Stripling is set to start Saturday's game, scheduled for 1 p.m. local time.

"This is one game and, granted, I totally understand the potential risk-reward here, but if it wasn't signed off by all parties, particularly David and the way he feels, we wouldn't even consider it," Farrell said. "But, you know what, games are taking on an added importance."

The Red Sox enter the weekend two games behind the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East and a half game ahead of the Detroit Tigers in the wild-card race.

Should the Red Sox make it to the World Series, playing Ortiz at first base in NL stadiums would definitely be in the plans.

"We don't want him sitting," Farrell said. "Hopefully that's a decision we have to make."