Notes: Papi set to shift to first
Slugger will dust off glove as Fall Classic heads west
BOSTON -- Though Red Sox manager Terry Francona hasn't set anything in stone for the non-designated hitter portion of this World Series, it is his preference to play David Ortiz at first base for all three games. Is that a realistic scenario?
"Yeah," said Francona.
It seems that the only thing that would prevent that is if Ortiz's right knee -- which has nagged at him all year -- isn't up to the task.
"If there is [a knee issue] and [rest] is needed, we'll do it," Francona said. "His bat is so important. There will be rest time here pretty soon. If we need to do that, we will."
So assuming Ortiz holds up, Francona will have to decide between Mike Lowell and Kevin Youkilis each night as the starting third baseman. Game 3 is on Saturday.
"What it really comes down to, the reality of it is, two out of the three play, and it's really disappointing, because we like when all three of them play," said Francona. "They've been mainstays in our lineup. They all do different things. If we play Youkilis at third and Ortiz at first, we're playing to guys at positions they haven't played [much this year], which isn't real good either. So again, there are some things we need to think about."
But Francona doesn't seem at all keen on keeping Ortiz's devastating bat away from the inviting thin air of Coors Field.
"In our case, it's going to be one of the guys that has been a pretty big piece all year [sitting]," said Lowell. "That's what we have to deal with. We're going to know ahead of time, and whatever happens, all three of us are going to be rooting for our teammates to win, no matter what the case. We'll just have to wait and see what happens."
Ortiz started seven games for the Red Sox at first base this year and didn't make an error. Youkilis made 12 starts at third base, committing three errors.
Manny visualizes success: Spare the Red Sox the tales about how Manny Ramirez could wake up in the middle of the winter and line a double into the gap in left-center. There are too many members of the team who observe Ramirez on a daily basis and see some of the preparation that plays into his greatness.
For example, Francona pointed out some of the visualization exercises Ramirez does on a typical day, and they start many hours before the first pitch of the game.
Ramirez isn't just a hitting machine; he also seems to be a hitting genius.
"There's a circle and it has Wiffle Balls attached to it," said Francona. "[Strength and conditioning coach] David Page flips it to him and calls out a number on the ball. I've watched him do it -- I don't know how he does it. I don't know how anybody does it, but he just grabs it. There's four [balls], I believe, and that thing is spinning. I've marveled since I've been here at how he does it -- his recognition, how somebody can [do that], his ability to concentrate."
Lowell, a pretty good hitter himself, also doesn't know how Ramirez does some of the things he does.
"He does a lot of visualization drills that I think are unique to baseball players," Lowell said. "He does a lot of things visually with small baseballs and he does very specific things off the tee. So there's an absolute method to how he wants to approach the game. His talent is unbelievable."
Ramirez entered Game 2 hitting .441 during this postseason, with four homers and 16 RBIs.
Hot bats: During the regular season, the Red Sox relied more on their pitching than their offense, which had a tendency to be inconsistent. But the Boston bats have taken it to another level in October.
Entering Game 2 of the World Series, the Red Sox were hitting .316 as a team. Their 31 doubles are already the most they've had over an entire postseason. With 83 runs, the Sox are just eight away from setting the club record, set by the 2004 World Series champions.
"We're hitting and putting together at-bats as well as in any stretch of the season," said Lowell. "I think we're being patient with guys that aren't executing their pitches. I think we're being very selective."
Dice-K disappears into thin air: So he could get plenty of rest for his Game 3 start on Saturday, the Red Sox had right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka fly to Denver before Thursday night's game started.
The Sox will hold a workout at Coors Field on Friday, at which point they can begin getting acclimated to the ballpark and the climate.
Coco getting there: Center fielder Coco Crisp, who banged his left knee into the wall while making a spectacular catch to end the American League Championship Series, got a couple of innings at the end of Game 1. Jacoby Ellsbury became the primary center fielder, starting with Game 6 against the Indians.
But Francona will still lean on Crisp, particularly when you consider the vast outfield dimensions at Coors.
"I thought he was a little sore," Francona said. "Looking at him run, I didn't think he was at top speed. I kind of wanted to get him in there and get him an at-bat, and I thought it was a good time to do it. Coco is always going to will himself to be a dynamic center fielder, even when he doesn't feel good. We're going to need Coco in this series -- whether he starts or whether he plays in a game. I thought getting him out there would be more help than harm."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.