Ortiz Seeks Opportunity At the Plate

By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BOSTON, Oct. 14 -- Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz acknowledged the lingering soreness from a wrist injury that cost him 45 games this season, but he said his lack of run production in the middle of the team's lineup is more a function of lack of opportunity than of injury.

"The problem is, everyone is focused on Papi not hitting," said Ortiz, who snapped an 0-for-14 skid in this series with a seventh-inning triple. "But to tell the truth, in both of these [playoff] series . . . Papi doesn't come to hit with men on base all the time. I might come to hit four or five times with men" in scoring position.

"You're not going to change the game when [the opposition has] a lead of nine or 10 runs. What we need to focus on right now is to stop their offense."

Ortiz is hitting just .161 in the postseason, with no homers and only one RBI. He came to the plate once Tuesday night with a runner on base, in the eighth inning, and struck out. His triple came as the leadoff hitter in the seventh.

The injury -- a torn sheath around the tendon in his left wrist, which occurred May 31 in Baltimore -- was a serious one that cost Ortiz all of June and most of July. After returning, he hit .277 with a .914 OPS (on-base plus slugging) -- slightly off his career norms. Nearly three months after returning, he acknowledged it is still bothering him.

"I'm all right," he said. "I'm dealing with my hand and stuff. But right now . . . I don't want to put too many things in my head."

Rays Ponder Pitching Change

The Rays are contemplating a flip-flop in their starting rotation for Games 5 and 6, with lefty Scott Kazmir pitching the former and right-hander James Shields the latter, even though Shields pitched Game 1 and Kazmir Game 2 the first time through the rotation.

Kazmir, who would be pitching on full rest in Game 5, has pitched well at Fenway Park (4-4, 3.02 ERA lifetime), but the decision -- if it is made -- could have just as much to do with the umpiring rotation.

Umpire Derryl Cousins, who is scheduled to work behind the plate for Game 6, ejected Kazmir in a game in June for arguing about the strike zone, after which Kazmir ripped Cousins's strike zone as "ridiculous" and "unbelievable."

Lowell to Have Hip Surgery

The Red Sox announced that veteran third baseman Mike Lowell will have surgery Monday on his ailing hip, ending his season. He was on the team's roster in the division series, but had to be replaced prior to Game 4. . . .

Evan Longoria's first-inning homer Tuesday night was his fifth of the postseason, a record for rookies, passing Miguel Cabrera, who hit four for Florida in 2003.

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