PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — David Ortiz thought the Red Sox had some holes in their lineup before the 2014 season started and lobbied in vain for the team to sign Nelson Cruz.
So it was encouraging for Ortiz when the team landed free agents Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval last week.
“Two younger guys, two good hitters,” Ortiz said Thursday. “I was excited. I think everybody was. Now what about the pitching?”
Ortiz is hosting his seventh annual charity golf tournament this weekend, and like many others, he is waiting to hear what decision free agent lefthander Jon Lester will make.
Lester is considering offers from at least the Red Sox, Cubs, Giants, and Dodgers.
According to major league sources, Lester has enough information to reach a decision before the start of the Winter Meetings on Monday but could wait to see how high the bidding climbs.
The Red Sox offered Lester a discount contract in spring training, ending negotiations. Then they traded him to Oakland in July.
“I heard that they’re trying to get into an agreement with him,” Ortiz said. “But there are some other teams talking to him at the same time. Hopefully we end up having him. We need pitching; that’s not a secret. Let’s see how everything plays out over time.”
Is Ortiz optimistic about the Sox signing Lester?
“Yeah,” he said. “Most of the time we come through. I know it’s a tough situation. My boy Lester, he’s got a lot of people around his head talking to him. I’m always wishing him the best, but hopefully we end up having him. We need him.”
Ortiz doesn’t necessarily feel it’s his place to recruit Lester.
“Me and Lester, during the season, we talk a lot,” he said. “This is a guy, he loves Boston. If I’m the Red Sox, I would do whatever it takes to keep a guy like that. That’s a guy, he brings everything every day to the field.
“Not only that, he cared about that city. He was devastated when he got traded. I know that. I can personally tell you that.
“But this is business. I know he understands that. Now is the time for us to step up, man up, and make the guy happy.”
Ortiz said he was surprised the Red Sox signed both Ramirez and Sandoval. He believes Ramirez will make a good transition from the infield to left field.
“He’s a great athlete,” said Big Papi. “I think he’s going to play the outfield very well.”
Ramirez said he is eager to play with Ortiz. The onetime Red Sox prospect was traded by Boston to the Marlins in 2005 and now, at age 30, is back.
“That’s my guy,” he said, gesturing toward Ortiz. “I get a lot of advice from him. I was going to be [at the charity event] anyway. But now it will be nice to talk about the future in Boston.”
Ramirez joined Ortiz for a private party at a nearby casino Wednesday night. Sandoval could arrive here Friday or Saturday.
Red Sox teammate Will Middlebrooks arrived Thursday.
With Sandoval, a third baseman, signed to a five-year contract, Middlebrooks is facing the possibility of a trade or perhaps an assignment to Triple A Pawtucket.
He said Thursday that learning to play first base appeals to him. With Mike Napoli signed only through the coming season, perhaps that is where Middlebrooks could fit long term.
“I know why they signed those guys,” Middlebrooks said. “It’s good for the team. We’ll see what happens. I want to be somebody who can contribute.”