Ortiz meets with Francona
PHILADELPHIA — David Ortiz, who went on the radio Thursday and criticized manager Terry Francona’s decisions to pinch hit for him, was in the manager’s office before last night’s game against the Phillies.
Ortiz told WEEI how hurt he was after Francona removed him for Mike Lowell in an April game in Toronto, when Ortiz nearly reached the plate before returning to the dugout.
“You know that if you ride with me, you’re going to get two things,’’ Ortiz told WEEI. “Either you’re going to win or you’re going to die with me. That’s the way it is. That’s the way it’s been as long as I’ve been here. You have to believe in your players. Period. You chose to have me on your roster since Day 1. You’ve got to ride with me.’’
Asked yesterday about Ortiz’s comments, Francona said, “My job is to believe in our players. Not one, but 25, and try to do that as consistently as I can. I don’t think that will ever change. Just like I ask the players: Try to do your job the best you can. It doesn’t mean you’re perfect, but try to do the best you can, do what you think is right and communicate it and move on.’’
Francona, who has always gotten along with Ortiz, said their relationship hasn’t been damaged, despite the difficulties of the past two seasons.
“I think with any time you’re in my position, you have to tell people things sometimes they don’t want to hear,’’ Francona said. “That’s just the way the game is. Not that things don’t happen, but how you work through them is more important. I feel OK about that part.’’
ESPN.com reported that Ortiz left the park early after that game in Toronto, but Francona told the Globe that was erroneous, which he repeated yesterday. “Somebody is reporting something that’s not true,’’ Francona said.
Ortiz has heated up lately and is tied for second in the American League with seven home runs in May. Ortiz came into last night batting .358 with a 1.170 OPS this month. With the Sox playing in a National League park, Ortiz was on the bench for the second straight game, although he pinch hit and flied to center with the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth in the 5-1 loss to the Phillies. Ortiz did not play Thursday against the Twins with lefthander Francisco Liriano on the mound. Francona said he was not going to move Kevin Youkilis to third base in this series, but Ortiz might get a chance to start over the weekend if Youkilis is given a day off.
It appears Francona thinks Ortiz has handled his situation as well as can be expected.
“It’s actually been pretty good,’’ Francona said. “We’ve sat and talked and he hasn’t always liked what I’ve told him. I think he knows that I care about him, and every player is supposed to feel that way. That’s the idea.’’
“I think our guys who have filled in for him have done terrific,’’ Francona said. “He’s got that type of game-changing speed. That helps you not only manufacture, it helps you score runs.’’
Ellsbury is likely to play center field with Mike Cameron rehabbing an abdominal injury.
Cameron homered for Double A Portland last night, although his return has not been determined.
The Sox have endured shaky outfield play with Darnell McDonald, Jeremy Hermida, and Bill Hall.
Ellsbury said landing on his chest was the biggest hurdle to overcome.
“Part of his ability is to be able to extend himself in the outfield, dive, leave his feet,’’ Francona said. “I think he feels like he can go do that.’’
Ellsbury said, “I’m going to go out there confident. There shouldn’t be any lingering effects.’’
Asked if he might be leery of injuring himself again, he said, “Not at all. I’m not afraid of contact. Never have, never will be, even after that incident.’’ Then he added with a smile, “[Beltre] better watch out. Next time, I’m coming in high.’’