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Adrian Gonzalez willing to play outfield to make room for David Ortiz

Jun 20, 2011, 6:06 PM EDT

Adrian Gonzalez, David Ortiz Getty Images

Expectations were that either the AL’s third-best or fourth-best hitter would have to be held out of the lineup when the Red Sox start a nine-game road trip in National League parks on Friday.  There is an alternative, though.

Adrian Gonzalez said he’s willing to move to right field to make room for David Ortiz in the lineup with the DH unavailable starting Friday.  It something the Red Sox are considering trying, though probably for just a couple of games, not for the entire slate.

Gonzalez has started all 71 of Boston’s games at first base.  He’s only played right field once in his career, that coming back in 2005 with Texas.  The Rangers weighed moving him out there on a more regular basis since they had Mark Teixeira installed at first, but even back then, they realized he was too slow to make it as an outfielder.

And Gonzalez is certainly no faster now.  While he’s certainly less round than Ortiz, he’d probably lose a footrace to Boston’s DH.  Putting him in right field, while also taking a defensive downgrade at first base, would seem to be more trouble than it’s worth.  There’s also the risk of injury for both Gonzalez and Ortiz.

On the other hand, while the Red Sox may be worse off on any given day with Gonzalez in right, they don’t want to see Ortiz lose his timing at the plate either.  He’s currently hitting .320/.399/.602 this season.  His 1.000 OPS puts him behind only Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and Gonzalez in the American League.

So it’s no easy call.  The Red Sox may wait and see how Gonzalez handled shagging some balls in the outfield before deciding whether to try it.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Jun 20, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    As a Yankee fan, I would prefer they put Youk in LF again, and let Gonzalez play 3B. Youk in the outfield is funnier.

    • havlicekstoletheball - Jun 20, 2011 at 7:07 PM

      Yeah, but Manny Ramirez and Mike Greenwell made Youkilis in the outfield look like Willie Mays.

      It is tough to appreciate how bad those two were. I remember watching Greenie circle under a routine fly ball only to have it land ten feet behind him.

      • jwbiii - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:00 PM

        I really think Greenwell is dyslexic. I sat directly behind him once and he took off for a ground ball at the right angle but the wrong direction – 35 degrees left and forward instead of 35 degrees right and forward. He took a few steps and then corrected his course. The effect was like a batter getting a base hit and taking a few step towards third and thinking, “No, wait. Other way.”

  2. ronaldjc - Jun 20, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    This is why they should either DH in both leagues or not in either.

  3. Chris St. John - Jun 20, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    My fantasy team would sure love Ortiz to get 1B eligibility. His value would skyrocket.

  4. aaronmoreno - Jun 20, 2011 at 6:33 PM

    Uh, what happens for 3 or 4 games if they get to the World Series?

    • JBerardi - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:39 PM

      America suffers.

  5. Jack Marshall - Jun 20, 2011 at 6:41 PM

    The Red Sox have to find out if they can find a way to keep Ortiz and Gonzo in the line-up at the same time, and this is as good a time as any. Ortiz isn’t terrible at first—I’m certain he’s much better at first than Adrian is in the OF.

  6. patsandsox - Jun 20, 2011 at 7:05 PM

    Bad idea not worth the chance of injury.

    • bigharold - Jun 20, 2011 at 10:25 PM

      I have to agree. On the face of it it might appear to be a Yankee fan taking shots at the RS this is a fairly dangerous proposition and only a fool would consider doing it in anything less that the WS. I’m amazed that the Nation isn’t revolting at the mere suggestion. Not to mention, there would be a significant fall off defensively at BOTH positions. What are we talking about 6 games?

      Gonzalez should get credit for his willingness but if either of these guys end up on the DL because of it somebody is getting tared and feathered.

      Of course it wouldn’t hurt the Yankees if they attempted this and it might well work in their favor in the long run. In the short run, it absolutely isn’t worth the possible consequences.

      • pisano - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:00 AM

        You are correct big, it makes no sense at all. Six games is nothing to worry about. What they need to worry about is burning Alfredo Aceves out. They have been using him alot, and now I see they’re going to start him tomorrow. He was a gift from the Yankees because they thought his back problems would cause him trouble in the future, but the way the Sox are using him it might be his arm that will be the problem.

      • bigharold - Jun 21, 2011 at 1:09 AM

        “What they need to worry about is burning Alfredo Aceves out.”

        Where have you been?? The RS have the absolute best pitching in baseball!! Rotation, .. pen, hell even the BP guys are better than anybody else’s. Snap out of it!!

  7. cogitobaseballergosum - Jun 20, 2011 at 8:01 PM

    J.D. Drew must be thrilled with Gonzalez’s offer.

  8. deathmonkey41 - Jun 21, 2011 at 9:15 AM

    Big Papi said thank you, but no thank you because he’d have to increase his dosage to play the field and that would put him at greater risk of getting caught in the drug screening…uh…he meant he didn’t want to take a position away from anyone…

  9. DanM - Jun 21, 2011 at 6:06 PM

    Frankly, this is an insult to Adrian Gonzalez. He’s the best first baseman in baseball, has played first base his ENTIRE life, outfield never. He may have “agreed” to play outfield, but he does not want to play outfield. He’s a nice guy and a team player, but outfield? Find another way, Francona.

  10. 24missed - Jun 21, 2011 at 8:09 PM

    They have time to work something out. Mr. Gonzalez is the best first baseman and hitter. Mr. Ortiz is fabulous, too, but…Mr. Gonzalez is just plain better. He also has been quoted multiple times as saying he wants to play every single game. Why not keep him at first? Still enough time to figure something out, if they haven’t already.

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