Expectations were that either the AL’s third-best or fourth-best hitter would have to be held out of the lineup when the Red Sox start a nine-game road trip in National League parks on Friday. There is an alternative, though.
Adrian Gonzalez said he’s willing to move to right field to make room for David Ortiz in the lineup with the DH unavailable starting Friday. It something the Red Sox are considering trying, though probably for just a couple of games, not for the entire slate.
Gonzalez has started all 71 of Boston’s games at first base. He’s only played right field once in his career, that coming back in 2005 with Texas. The Rangers weighed moving him out there on a more regular basis since they had Mark Teixeira installed at first, but even back then, they realized he was too slow to make it as an outfielder.
And Gonzalez is certainly no faster now. While he’s certainly less round than Ortiz, he’d probably lose a footrace to Boston’s DH. Putting him in right field, while also taking a defensive downgrade at first base, would seem to be more trouble than it’s worth. There’s also the risk of injury for both Gonzalez and Ortiz.
On the other hand, while the Red Sox may be worse off on any given day with Gonzalez in right, they don’t want to see Ortiz lose his timing at the plate either. He’s currently hitting .320/.399/.602 this season. His 1.000 OPS puts him behind only Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera and Gonzalez in the American League.
So it’s no easy call. The Red Sox may wait and see how Gonzalez handled shagging some balls in the outfield before deciding whether to try it.