Notes: Ortiz plays defense in Arizona
Designated hitter slotted at first base for Interleague Play
PHOENIX -- The first day in a National League park for the Red Sox this season meant one thing: David Ortiz had to locate his first baseman's mitt and play defense.
"I've got a brand new glove right here," said Ortiz, motioning toward the inside of his locker.
It's not as if Ortiz will have a whole lot of chances to break it in. He'll play here Friday and Saturday nights against the Diamondbacks before sitting on Sunday against Randy Johnson. Ortiz will then stash the glove away again until June 18, when the Sox start a string of six games at Atlanta and San Diego.
After that? Perhaps the All-Star Game at San Francisco on July 10. Of course, Ortiz would love to have to wear his mitt again in October, because that would mean the Red Sox are in the World Series.
Though Ortiz couldn't help but have some defensive rustiness entering Friday's game, he took the challenge with his usual light-heartedness.
"Catch whatever you can," said Ortiz. "Defend yourself out there. Make sure your teeth don't come out of your mouth."
Red Sox manager Terry Francona has long complained about having to play a different lineup when his team plays in National League cities. For example, Kevin Youkilis was on the bench on Friday night despite the fact he's hitting .341. Youkilis will move to third base on Saturday, when Mike Lowell (.317, 11 homers, 45 RBIs) is forced into an off-day.
Francona understood the challenge Ortiz faced after not playing defense in nearly a year.
"I obviously want to win the game," Francona said. "I worry that something will happen and I don't want him to be embarrassed. ... You know what I mean, somebody hits a ball and he kicks it -- it's not fair. I don't care who you are. You go out after not playing for two months, it's not fair. But David's handled this before and I don't doubt he'll do it again. But I do worry about it."
Timlin will be activated: Right-hander Mike Timlin, fresh off Thursday's Minor League rehab outing for Triple-A Pawtucket, re-joined the Red Sox at Chase Field prior to Friday's game. Timlin will be activated for Saturday's game.
Coming off the disabled list for the second time this season, Timlin is antsy to get going again.
"I want to be back with the team," Timlin said. "It means quite a big deal. I'm throwing the ball really well, I'm feeling good, feeling normal. It's a year later. Nothing feels like it did last year. There's still aches and pains that everyone has, and you have to deal with it."
Francona will be mindful of not over-using Timlin.
"There's no restrictions, but I think common sense has to apply," Francona said. "From day one in Spring Training, he's missed a lot of time for various reasons. We're not going to hurt him the first day back or the second day. We're going to try to use common sense, as we do with everybody."
Reunion with Byrnes: Francona had a friendly chat with Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes and assistant general manager Peter Woodford during batting practice. Both men were key members of Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein's staff before Byrnes got the Diamondbacks' job following the 2005 season.
The Diamondbacks are playing well under Byrnes, as evidenced by the 36-25 record they took into Friday's game.
"It's one of those things where you're thrilled a guy gets an opportunity but you're not dying to see him leave," said Francona. "Same thing with Woody. They were so special. You can write anything nice you want, as long as you want, and put quotes by me, because that's how I feel. They are awesome."
Matsuzaka breaks out bat: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was disappointed during Spring Training at Francona's orders to keep the bat on his shoulder during exhibition games without the DH, finally got to break out his bat. Matsuzaka took his first round of live batting practice this season in preparation for Sunday's game, when he has the unenviable task of hitting against Johnson.
Matsuzaka looked comfortable during BP. According to one member of the Japanese media, Matsuzaka had 11 hits -- including two homers -- in 22 swings.
On deck: The Sox send Julian Tavarez (3-4, 5.33 ERA) to the mound for Saturday's middle game of this series. The Diamondbacks counter with right-hander Micah Owings (4-1, 3.86). First pitch is slated for 9:40 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.