Ortiz to wield a glove as Youkilis gets bench

By MARC TOPKIN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 27, 2007

DENVER - Boston manager Terry Francona made it clear he didn't find any of the options particularly appealing.

But forced to alter his lineup for the NL-rules games without the DH, he chose to move David Ortiz to first base, keep Mike Lowell at third and put Kevin Youkilis on the bench.

"I think David is a really good hitter, and I think Mike Lowell is a really good hitter, and I actually think Youk is a really good hitter," Francona said. "But they won't let us play all three of them. So we'll go with this."

Ortiz has been bothered the past few months by a sore right knee that will require postseason surgery, and the Sox aren't sure how it will react to nine innings (or seven or eight if they have a lead) in the field.

Ortiz, who took ground balls during Friday's workout, said he would be fine, though it's likely the Rockies will test him with a few bunts. Ortiz played seven interleague games at first this year, with no errors (and 27 over the last three seasons), but he hasn't been in the field since June 24. He had three new gloves in his locker Friday.

"When we're (up) 2-0 (in the Series), it feels great," Ortiz said. "Right now, I have no pain. I have a little bit of swelling, but the pain is not as bad as it gets sometimes. The other day when I was working at first base, when I finished, it felt a little bit crazy. But this is it, bro. After this, there's no other (series)."

FOR EVERY ACTION: All Youkilis has done during the postseason is hit .396 with four homers and 10 RBIs, but that's not good enough to stay in the lineup.

The plan is to use Youkilis to replace Ortiz in the late innings if the Sox have a lead, and Youkilis said he understood. "It's really not that big a deal," he said. "We've got wars in the Middle East, and people are worried about Kevin Youkilis playing third base."

Francona has to fill Youkilis' No. 2 spot in the lineup. His tentative plan is to move rookie Jacoby Ellsbury to the leadoff spot and drop Dustin Pedroia to second.

LOST - ONE OFFENSE: The normally high-flying Rockies have been held to two runs in the first two games (lowest since the Yankees in 2001) and 11 hits, for a .180 average. Of their usual contributors, leadoff man Willy Taveras is 0-for-7 and Kaz Matsui, Garrett Atkins and Brad Hawpe (six strikeouts) are 1-for-8.

Manager Clint Hurdle admitted he was considering some changes.

"Obviously we're not swinging the bats too well and obviously their pitching (22 strikeouts, three walks) has been good," rookie Troy Tulowitzki said. "But things can turn real quick."

ONE GOOD TURN: Rockies starter Josh Fogg, a Tampa resident, was asked about opponent Daisuke Matsuzaka's supposed "gyro" ball. "I'm guessing it's his changeup," Fogg said. "Hopefully he doesn't throw it to me."

MISCELLANY: Since June 2, the Sox are 42-15 at Coors Field.