David Ortiz is the best hitter in the Boston Red Sox' lineup, and the team will do anything to keep his bat in the order in the World Series -- even play him at first base, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Nightengale reports that Red Sox manager John Farrell is prepared to play his lumbering slugger in the field when the Fall Classic shifts to St. Louis for Games 3 through 5, but notes that the skipper would not reveal how many starts Ortiz may get at first.
Although Ortiz is predominantly a designated hitter, and has been for his entire major league career, it is not unusual for the Red Sox to hand him a glove when the team plays in National League parks. Big Papi has made 32 regular-season starts at first base over the last seven seasons (all in NL parks) and appeared there in every season of his career except for injury-shortened 2008. In those starts, Ortiz accrued 224 chances and made only one error. He also appeared at first base in the 2007 World Series against the Colorado Rockies and the 2004 World Series against the Cardinals, starting in the field for both games at both Coors Field and Busch Stadium.
Regardless of Ortiz's abilities in the field (or lack thereof), it is easy to see why Farrell wants him in the lineup. The left-hander batted .309/.395/.564 this year with 30 home runs and 103 RBI and has already swatted three long balls in the postseason. Ortiz had a big moment in the ALCS against the Detroit Tigers when he blasted a game-tying grand slam in the eighth inning of Game 2; the Red Sox later won on a walk-off hit in the ninth to complete the comeback. With Ortiz at first base, Mike Napoli will likely be dropped from the starting lineup in the games at Busch Stadium. Farrell may have a quick hook for Ortiz at first, though; he was removed early for a defensive replacement in four of the six games he played in the field this year.