ST. LOUIS – Since 2008, David Ortiz has played a total of 25 games at first base, including just six this season. With the World Series shifting to the National League city for Saturday night’s Game 3, the Boston Red Sox’ regular designated hitter will move back onto the field at the most crucial time — a decision that means the Red Sox will be without ALCS hero Mike Napoli in the starting lineup.
“David has got such a long career that we all lean on,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.
Ortiz, who has taken grounders at first before each World Series game and again Friday in a workout at Busch Stadium, hit two-run homers in each of the first two games of the World Series, and he has five homers in 12 postseason games this year.
“I DH every day, pretty much,” Ortiz said. “But that doesn’t mean that I come to the field and sit down and wait for the game time to show up. I got to get my work in.”
For Game 3 against St. Louis — in a tie series — that leaves Napoli, Boston’s regular first baseman, as a potential pinch hitter and defensive substitute. Napoli is hitting only .225 this postseason, but he owns some of Boston’s biggest hits — solo homers in Games 3 and 5 of the American League Championship Series that sparked victories over Detroit and a three-run double in the first inning of the first game against St. Louis that put the Red Sox in command.
Yet the consensus is Ortiz is the more established threat.
“Obviously David’s bat, at all costs, needs to be in the lineup,” Game 3 starter Jake Peavy said.
Farrell said the Red Sox would determine their starting first baseman daily in St. Louis. Ortiz, a left-handed hitter, would seem to have the advantage because St. Louis’s entire postseason rotation is right-handed.
Farrell said he would also insert the left-handed hitting Daniel Nava into left field for the struggling Jonny Gomes. Gomes is hitless in the two World Series games and 1 for his last 16 with no walks dating to Game 4 of the ALCS.
The flip side of the fact that there’s no designated hitter for Games 3, 4 and 5: The Cardinals will sit Allen Craig, who led them with 97 RBI, in favor of Matt Adams at first base. Craig, who missed six weeks with a foot injury, just returned and has not yet played in the field.
“We’re not rushing it to where we feel we could put him in a spot to where he compromises his health and he goes backwards,” Cardinals Manager Mike Matheny said.
Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, who is experiencing tightness in his right shoulder, threw from perhaps 100 feet Friday afternoon, and Farrell said unequivocally that Buchholz would be ready for Game 4.
“He’s starting Sunday,” Farrell said.. . .
Cardinals’ ace Adam Wainwright, the starter and loser in Game 1, said there had been discussion that he would start on short rest in Game 4 had the Cardinals faced elimination. Now that a Game 5 is guaranteed Monday night here, that no longer is a possibility. Lance Lynn will pitch Sunday’s game for the Cardinals, with Wainwright going in Game 5.