Notes: Ortiz won't shift approach
Lefty slugger ignores defensive alignment when at the plate
TORONTO -- If you want to throw David Ortiz out from right field on a ground ball -- as Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill did Wednesday night -- go right ahead. The left-handed slugger doesn't plan on making any changes to throw off the creative shifts that teams stack against him.
In fact, he doesn't even look at them anymore.
"I just see the ball and hit it," said Ortiz. "I don't even know where they play me. Alex [Cora] told me that they were moving the third baseman to the middle. I think it was [a couple of days ago] that they had the second baseman and the shortstop in [their regular positions] and then they move the third baseman. That's what they did, right? Alex told me that and I was like, 'Oh really.'
"I don't pay attention. All I pay attention to is going to the plate and seeing the ball and put a good swing on it. I can't do anything else. What else can I do? If they make a play, what can I do? Hang with it."
Ortiz showed the type of hanging with it he does in Wednesday's game. In the at-bat after Hill's highlight reel 4-3 putout from right field, Ortiz clocked a Tomo Ohka offering over the left-field wall. In the plate appearance after that, he effortlessly smoked a single into left field, through the vacant third-base side of the infield.
It might have looked to a casual observer that Ortiz was trying to one-up the Blue Jays by going the other way in his last two at-bats. But that assumption would be inaccurate.
"It gets worse if you think about hitting the ball to left field," said Ortiz. "I'm very mechanical when I'm hitting. I'm not going to lie to you. Before, in past years, I tried to hit the ball that way, it never worked. My whole swing changed when I tried to hit the ball that way. I just try to see the pitch and hit it. I just have to react with the pitch."
The DH did enough research to estimate that he lost 42 hits from the shift last year. Ortiz hit .287 last year. If Ortiz's math was right, and he did lose 42 hits, he would've batted .362 without the shift.
"I don't worry about my batting average," Ortiz said. "To me, as long as I've been here, I've been hitting .300. My father told me, 'The way they play you, if you ever hit .320, you're the batting champion.'"
Red Sox manager Terry Francona is very much an advocate of Ortiz sticking with his approach and not trying to bust the shift.
"With extraordinary players, you try to do extraordinary things to stop them," Francona said. "We don't want to turn David into a No. 2 hitter. We want David to drive the ball. If that shift takes some hits away sometimes, that's the way it is."
Break for Lugo: After starting the first 13 games, leadoff man Julio Lugo was out of the lineup for Thursday's finale in Toronto. Coco Crisp moved to the top of the order, with Cora subbing for Lugo at short and batting ninth.
"He's played every game. Quick turnaround," Francona said of Lugo. "I think it will be good for him. I think his legs are feeling it a little bit. I talked to him about it the other day and told him I'd check with him after the game [Wednesday], and I just think it makes sense."
Corner shuffle: The other lineup adjustment involved third baseman Mike Lowell getting his first breather of the season. Eric Hinske started at first base, with Kevin Youkilis moving across the diamond to third.
A third baseman by trade, Youkilis didn't figure to have much of a problem with the temporary position switch.
"I told him a couple of nights ago he was going to play over there," Francona said. "We could certainly play Hinske [at third]. I just think with [Julian] Tavarez pitching, if he's throwing the ball the way he should, we put Hinske at first and Youk at third, that's our best defense. But I wanted to give Youk a heads-up, too, just so he could go over there [in pregame drills]. If he had a problem going over there, I wouldn't do it."
Timlin well rested: Setup man Mike Timlin entered Thursday's game fresh, having not pitched since Friday. In fact, Timlin has pitched just twice since coming off the disabled list on April 10.
Why did Francona opt for Brendan Donnelly in the eighth inning with a 4-1 lead on Wednesday instead of Timlin?
"Timlin, if we used him last night, we wouldn't have used him today," said Francona. "Once we got Donnelly up, we were going to pitch him. We told Mike that last night. This is the reason. It wasn't like we're afraid to use him. With the turnaround, we need to watch arms. Tavarez, it's been a long time. We're always trying to think of all the scenarios."
On deck: Ace Curt Schilling takes the mound for the Red Sox on Friday when they renew their rivalry with the Yankees at Fenway Park. Andy Pettitte will pitch against Boston for the first time since the 2003 American League Championship Series. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.