Following last night’s win over the Astros, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the Boston Herald that he is leaning towards playing David Ortiz at first base tonight, which means Adrian Gonzalez will make another start in right field.
“If he plays (tonight), we’re looking at 13, 14, 15 (plate appearances), and we’re in good shape,” Francona said. “I feel good about David getting through this trip.”
Ortiz is 0-for-8 on the team’s current interleague road trip. He is hitless over his last 16 at-bats dating back to June 20.
Gonzalez played right field for the second time in his major league career Wednesday night against the Phillies. It was his first time playing the position since 2005 as a member of the Rangers. Gonzalez did jump to attempt to catch a fly ball hit by Chase Utley in the bottom of the eighth, but he didn’t make any putouts. It was largely uneventful and the Red Sox will hope for something similar tonight.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.
Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.
As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.