06/05/09 7:44 PM ET
Ortiz's vision not an issue
Slugger to have precautionary checkup due to dry eyes
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
However, Red Sox manager Terry Francona shed light on the situation on Friday afternoon, all but calling it a non-issue.
It turns out it was a case of Ortiz's eyes drying out at times, rather than a problem with his vision. The lefty slugger will have a precautionary checkup on Monday, an off-day for the Red Sox.
"Oh yeah, let's put this one to rest a little bit," Francona said. "I had a feeling this one would get some legs. First of all, I should have never not played him because he gets talkative when he's not playing. That was my fault."
Ortiz, who rested on Thursday against Tigers left-hander Dontrelle Willis, was back in the lineup on Friday night. So what was the issue with Big Papi's eyes?
"He had dry eyes on this last trip and he was blinking on a couple of at-bats," Francona said. "So he went to the trainers. Rather than give a guy a thing of eyedrops, we have really good ophthalmologists. He had some dry eyes, which I think we all do [at times]. We're just going to have him checked on Monday. If they end up dilating [his eyes], we'll do it on Monday. That's all that it is. His eyes are pretty good."
Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein confirmed that Ortiz, along with every other player on the team, had an extensive eye checkup during Spring Training.
"We used probably the most experienced baseball ophthalmologist," said Epstein. "He's got a database that goes way back. He studies their vision, the basics, and lots of things that I have no idea what they mean. He has lots of fancy charts and graphs. Even if a player is 20-20, they'll still push for a correction because an average big leaguer is significantly better than 20-20. David tested really well back in Spring Training. But it makes sense, any time a guys eyes are bothering him, to get re-tested."
Francona was amused that the story was getting so much attention in Boston.
"This is going to get way too much [play]," Francona said. "A couple of times, you know when you're out there hitting and you're looking and if you have dry eyes, it's hard not to blink. This happens -- my eyes do it all the time. If somebody says something to a trainer, rather than hand him some Visine, we have some great people around, might as well give what works for him best. The fact that he's doing it Monday should tell you right now it's not really on the [front burner]."
On the recently completed 10-game road trip, Francona moved Ortiz to the No. 6 spot in the lineup, and the lefty slugger went just 5-for-33 with two RBIs.
Ortiz was again hitting sixth on Friday.
"I don't know that when I did it, I thought he was going to hit .500," Francona said. "I did it for a couple of reasons. One, to take a little bit of the glare off him. If you take an 0-for and you're not hitting third, it's a little different."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.