David Ortiz dusted off his glove Monday and took grounders at first base for the first time since spring training. He will start his first game in the field Wednesday or Thursday in Philadelphia.
With no designated hitter used in interleague road games, the Sox plan to start Ortiz at first base in one game and Mike Napoli in the other.
“We’ll be able to use it to our advantage as far as a rest day for either guy,” manager John Farrell said.
Ortiz played seven games at first base last season.
With 15 teams in each league now, the number of interleague games went from 18 to 20. The Sox have a six-game trip vs. the Giants and Dodgers in August and two games in Colorado in September.
“It’s a pretty distinct disadvantage,” Farrell said. “Our team isn’t built like a National League team. While we’ve used our bench in certain matchups, we certainly don’t use it to any extent to which a National League team does. That’s not to make an excuse. That’s just to know there’s two different styles of play and teams are built to reflect that style.”
The disadvantage hasn’t affected the Red Sox that much. They are 33-21 in interleague road games since 2007 and 73-67 overall since interleague play started in 1997.
Farrell said the one break this season is that the interleague road games are spread out over the season. “From that standpoint, the schedule works in our favor,” he said.
Ortiz did not commit any errors in the field last season. While he lacks range, Ortiz does have good hands.
“The one thing people may overlook is that he’s a pretty darned good first baseman and we have no issue at all putting him at first base,” Farrell said.
Clay Buchholz, who was scheduled to start Monday night’s game before being skipped because of pain in his AC joint, had a lengthy throwing session in the outfield before batting practice.
Buchholz made some pitches from the windup, did some long tosses, and finished with a few more pitches that he let go at full speed.
“Felt fine, better as I went along,” Buchholz said. “It’s not going to be a problem.”
The Sox have not scheduled a day for Buchholz to pitch. But Farrell said it would not be before Thursday. His next step would be to throw from a mound in the bullpen.
“We don’t anticipate this being more than a couple of days extended before he’s back on the mound for us,” Farrell said. “A positive day for him.”
Dempster: Big start
Ryan Dempster, who faces Cliff Lee Tuesday, had a 2.93 earned run average and a 1.09 WHIP in his first seven starts. He has a 10.66 ERA and a 2.45 WHIP in his last three starts.
“I need to stop leaving the ball up. It’s a mechanical thing,” Dempster said. “It’s an adjustment and I need to work on it.”
Dempster has thrown 312 pitches over only 12⅔ innings in those three starts, allowing 15 earned runs on 20 hits and 11 walks. The elevated pitch count is what concerns Farrell.
“Regardless of stage of career, you can’t keep doing that,” he said.
Dempster looked better when he threw in the bullpen Sunday. Leaving his fastball up has led to an assortment of problems.
“It has taken away from the shape and execution of his secondary pitches,” Farrell said. “When he was right, he’d be able to get that slider or cutter at any time in the count, particularly 3-2, for a number of strikeouts. It shows that he’s been pushing the ball. From a timing standpoint in his delivery, he’s been out of synch.”
Honoring the day
Players from both teams and the umpires wore Memorial Day caps featuring US Marine Corps digital military camouflage. The players’ jerseys featured the same pattern on the team logos. Proceeds from sales of the caps and jerseys will be donated to the Welcome Back Veterans organization.
The Sox before the game also recognized 30 employees who are veterans. The group included Charlie Laubenstein of Gloucester, a submariner in World War II, and several other combat veterans.
Navy Rear Admiral Victor M. Beck and five Gold Star Wives threw out first pitches to Red Sox players.
Gold Star Wives are women whose husbands died on active duty or as a result of military service. Jennifer Underwood (Belchertown), Lori Loiselle (Southampton), Susan Bray (Holyoke), Najla Purcell (Lawrence), and Irene Finneral (Lowell) also received flowers from the team. Finneral’s husband and son were killed in action.
The colors were presented by VFW Post 2902 of West Roxbury. With service members from Hanscom Air Force Base attending to the giant American flag on the left-field wall, Sgt. First Class Michelle Lowes of the New Hampshire Army National Guard performed the national anthem.
After the fourth inning, Sgt. First Class Anne M. Brown of Worcester was introduced. She recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Phillies center fielder Ben Revere made one of the best catches at Fenway this season in the fourth inning. When Ortiz hit a shot over his head, Revere sprinted back and made the catch before crashing into the metal grate over the window of the Bleacher Bar. Revere came up clutching his left arm but stayed in the game and had two hits . . . Stephen Drew is 5 of 7 with two RBIs, two walks, and five runs in two games after getting a day off Saturday . . . Jarrod Saltalamacchia has reached base safely in 16 consecutive games, adding to the longest streak of his career . . . Daniel Bard has not pitched for Double A Portland since May 15, the day he walked five of the eight batters he faced. Bard has not been shut down. “No. Just giving him a little break,” general manager Ben Cherington said.