FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz sat on the dugout bench before Thursday night’s game against the Yankees laughing loudly as he chatted with teammates and other passers-by.
He has struggled at the plate during spring training but isn’t concerned.
“I’m swinging fine. I’ll be ready,” he said.
Ortiz was 0 for 2 with a walk in the game. He is 2 for 32 with 10 strikeouts and has gone 17 consecutive at-bats without hit.
Ortiz didn’t play in spring training last season as he recovered from an Achilles’ tendon injury. He started the season on the disabled list before going 4 for 18 on a six-game rehabilitation assignment with Triple A Pawtucket.
Once he reported to the Red Sox, Ortiz hit .440 (22 of 50) with 12 extra-base hits and 17 RBIs in his first 13 major league games en route to one of the best seasons of his career.
Manager John Farrell doesn’t have Big Papi on his list of worries.
“I’m not concerned with David, what he’s done through 30 at-bats,” he said. “You watch the BP, the bat speed is clearly there, the power is there. He’s seeing pitches. He’s going to get more everyday at-bats starting on Sunday through the remainder of camp. I have no concern with David.”
The Sox optioned infielder Brock Holt and righthander Rubby De La Rosa to Pawtucket and reassigned infielder Brandon Snyder to minor league camp.
De La Rosa will be used as a starter with Pawtucket. He was limited to 91⅔ innings last season as part of his recovery from Tommy John surgery but the restrictions have been lifted.
Farrell said the Red Sox have adjusted the position of De La Rosa’s hands in his delivery and encouraged him to throw more curveballs to increase the variety of his pitches.
“We feel like those two adjustments will help him not only command his fastball better but give him some more off-speed to attack a given hitter with,” the manager said.
“With Rubby, it’s not a matter of stuff. It’s a matter of more consistent location.”
Ellsbury has MRI
Jacoby Ellsbury did not travel with the Yankees to JetBlue Park. He has not played since last Friday because of a tight right calf muscle. The Yankees gave him an MRI, which was negative.
Ellsbury was supposed to take batting practice in Tampa Thursday but was held out to get the MRI.
“I’m sure he’ll take BP tomorrow. We just wanted to make sure he was OK,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
It hasn’t been determined when Ellsbury will return.
“We want to get him out there and get ready for the season. As soon as we can get him out there we’ll get him out there,” Girardi said. “I don’t think he needs that many [games]. If he gets three or four that’s enough.”
By the rules
Farrell said he has a good handle on the two biggest changes to baseball this season, the expanded use of instant replay and the new collision rule at home plate.
Both rules have been adjusted a bit, particularly the collision rule.
“When you boil it all down, if the runner deviates his base path, that’s where the player can be ejected. But if the catcher is standing at home plate blocking the plate, that catcher can be run over,” Farrell said.
The rule essentially eliminates the runner going out of the base line to hit the catcher, the kind of play that injured the Giants’ Buster Posey in 2011.
Posey was in front of the plate on that play and the runner, Scott Cousins, changed course to crash into him.
Posey suffered a fractured left fibula and torn ankle ligaments.
“The rule’s a good one for eliminating a potential severe injury,” Farrell said.
Cousins was signed to a minor league contract by the Red Sox over the winter but not invited to spring training. He has played in six major league games this spring and spoke to Farrell about the play with Posey.
“As these two changes have been rolled out, there’s been follow-up and clarification,” Farrell said. “You can run over a catcher. As more questions have been asked, there’s been more clarification.”
Initially the Red Sox runners were told to always slide into the plate. Now that has been adjusted.
DH request denied
The Red Sox travel to Clearwater on Friday to face the Phillies. The Red Sox requested to use a DH but Philadelphia refused. That means Jon Lester will take his first swings of the spring — or more likely stand there with a bat on his shoulder to avoid injury.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Lavarnway, Will Middlebrooks, and A.J. Pierzynski will make the trip.
The Red Sox play the Braves in Lake Buena Vista on Saturday. A group of players and coaches will stay overnight in the area.
No big deal
The Yankees sent only a few recognizable players to Thursday’s game. But Farrell didn’t mind. The Red Sox were fined a small amount for doing the same thing for a road game against the Marlins March 6.
“Joe is going to do what’s best for his team. Our focus is on our guys,” Farrell said. “There’s some logistical challenges that spring training presents us. We’ve got a 7:15 bus in the morning; we have our own challenges. I understand what he’s faced with.”
Again and again
Grady Sizemore, who started in center field, will be off on Friday. He is scheduled to play in a minor league game on Saturday before starting on Sunday and Monday. That would be the first time this spring he plays three games in a row . . . Farrell hasn’t officially announced the rotation to open the season, just in case something happens. But how the starters are lined up — Lester, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy, and Clay Buchholz — is how it will stay for the regular season.