With David Ortiz out, DH duties to be spread around

Mike Napoli continued to play well in spring camp, rapping out an RBI single in the third inning of Tuesday’s victory.
steve nesius/reuters
Mike Napoli continued to play well in spring camp, rapping out an RBI single in the third inning of Tuesday’s victory.

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The Red Sox have a few weeks to figure out who will serve as the designated hitter until David Ortiz is deemed ready to play. But they have made one decision already: It will be more than one player.

“We envision it as being a little bit of a rotation, so not to say that one person would strictly be a DH,” said manager John Farrell. “That’s an initial approach.

“We haven’t pinpointed one guy. We don’t have another David Ortiz. We’ll probably look at some matchups as we plan against a given starter on that day.”


The Sox could use first baseman Mike Napoli and left fielder Jonny Gomes as a DH with other players mixing in. How the bench is constituted will determine that.

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“We’ve got competition that’s going on in camp,” said Farrell. “My first view would be that who our DH is [will] open up a position elsewhere possibly, and we’ve got three or four different options and combinations that we could fill that out with.

“You can keep guys a little more fresh.”

Napoli has started 44 games as a DH and hit well there (.287 with a .966 OPS). Gomes has hit much better as an outfielder (.263) than as a DH (.224).

Napoli has played first base well in camp, to a point where the Sox feel no need to retain a first baseman to use as a late-inning defensive replacement.


Napoli also is feeling no effects from the hip condition the Sox were so cautious with when camp started.

“The way he’s come out of each work session, other than normal stiffness that a player would go through in camp, there’s been no issues there,” Farrell said.

The Sox do not seem to be leaning toward the idea of keeping Ryan Lavarnway as an extra catcher and occasional DH. Lavarnway has significant minor league experience as a DH (along with 23 starts in the majors), but Farrell said he has noticed Lavarnway having better at-bats this spring when he catches.

Buchholz caught up

Clay Buchholz strained his right hamstring on the first day of workouts and missed a start. He has caught up rapidly since then, and on Tuesday threw four scoreless innings against Toronto in a 5-3 victory.

Buchholz has not allowed a run in 8 innings this spring. He has walked two and struck out seven.


“Everything is starting to fall together,” he said. “I was able to go out there and execute pitches, like one after another, a little bit better than the last time out and the time before that.”

Buchholz has been pitching at a better tempo, too. Pitching coach Juan Nieves has made that a priority for him.

In recent years, several Sox pitchers worked with painful deliberation, following the lead of Josh Beckett. Now that Beckett has been traded, the idea of working quickly has taken hold.

“That’s been my No. 1 key as of late, getting on the rubber and throwing a pitch and getting back up there,” Buchholz said. “Just to make the game go a little bit quicker and not have to think too much. Just getting the ball and trying to go after it.”

Cuts announced

Outfielder Alex Hassan, a BC High product, and righthander Steven Wright were optioned to Triple A Pawtucket.

Four nonroster players — righthander Pedro Beato, outfielder/first baseman Mark Hamilton, outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker, and outfielder Juan Carlos Linares — were reassigned to minor league camp.

Hassan has yet to play as he recovers from a fractured left foot. He hopes get in minor league games next week.

Hamilton did not hit well (3 for 19) after looking impressive in early workouts. Hazelbaker was 5 for 14 and showed good skills in the outfield. He remains an intriguing prospect because of his power and speed.

Linares was 8 for 22 with a home run. The stocky 28-year-old has shown he can hit in three seasons since defecting from Cuba but needs work on other aspects of his game.

Day of rest

The Sox have one of their two scheduled days off Wednesday. Righthander Alfredo Aceves will pitch one inning in a minor league game. Aceves is scheduled to start against Tampa Bay Saturday. The Red Sox will have John Lackey pitch in a minor league game that day rather than face a divisional opponent . . . The Jays could become more frequent opponents of the Sox in future years. Their lease in Dunedin at antiquated Florida Auto Exchange Stadium expires in 2017. The team, according to reports in Canada and Florida, will investigate moving to Fort Myers, Naples, and sites on the East Coast. The Red Sox and Twins would welcome a third team in the Fort Myers area to cut down on road trips. City of Palms Park, the Sox’ former facility, is vacant . . . Longtime Boston sportcaster Bob Lobel was the public address announcer for the game, and is a candidate for the position at Fenway Park.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.