Gonzalez to Play Outfield a Crazy Idea


With the Boston Red Sox getting ready to embark on a nine game road trip that will see them play three National League teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros, manager Terry Francona has a huge dilemma on his hands.

Because the games will be played in the National League parks, the Red Sox lose their beloved designated hitter position.  What makes matters worse is that David Ortizis having such a nice year at the plate.  So how could the Red Sox possibly sit him for 9 straight games over 11 days.  A situation like that could cause Ortiz to lose his rhythm  and timing and ultimately lead to a prolonged slump with the bat. 

This situation has led to many different discussions about what to do with both Ortiz and the Red Sox first baseman, Adrian Gonzalez

Naturally, Ortiz could play first base in some of the inter league games, but the problem lies in where does Gonzalez play?  Many feel that sitting the slugging first baseman for more than two games on the road trip is absurd, if sitting him at all isn’t already.

All this week there has been plenty of talk about Gonzalez possibly playing right field for the games that Francona chooses to put Ortiz at first base.  Wise idea?  No, it’s not even a possibility in my mind.

How do you put the early MVP of the American League (Gonzalez) in right field where the chance of him getting hurt increases. It just doesn’t make sense.

Gonzalez has played right field during winter ball and also had a couple of starts in right field with the Texas Rangers in 2005.  That was then, this is now.

Remember last season when Jacoby Ellsburywas moved from his natural position of centre field to left field to accommodate Mike Cameron?  Ellsbury wasn’t as familiar with left, he tried tracking down a soft pop up in shallow left field, collided with Adrian Beltre, a couple cracked ribs later and Ellsbury missed almost an entire year. 

Now, I am not saying that Gonzalez will get hurt, but his chances of an injury are heightened by playing the outfield versus first base where he doesn’t have to move nearly as much, let alone exert too much energy.

My proposal to this problem is simple.  Let’s look again at who Boston will be playing.

The first series is against Pittsburgh.  A decent club this year, but a team the Red Sox should have no problems taking a minimum two of three from.  So will they miss Big Papi’s bat?  Probably not, so why not sit Gonzalez for the middle game and put Ortiz at first.  Gonzo plays twice, Ortiz plays once, giving him some rest (not that he needs it).

The second series against the Phillies makes it a little more difficult.  How about giving Ortiz a crack at first base for one game during the series and resting Gonzalez.  Ultimately, Ortiz could sit should either lefty Cliff Lee or Cole Hamels gets a start, if not both.

Finally, the brutal inter league road trip ends with the bottom feeding Houston Astros.  Ortiz plays first base in games one and three of the series and Gonzalez plays the middle game.  With a powerful lineup surrounding these two home run hitters, having one of their bats out of the lineup shouldn’t hurt the Red Sox.

This scenario has Gonzalez playing 5 out of the 9 games and Ortiz playing 4 out of the 9 games.  For Gonzalez, a guy who is used to playing an average of 160 games a year, resting for four games in late June may give him some much needed that could help him come late August.

For Ortiz, he’s not playing every game in the mentioned scenario, but is still available for pinch hitting late in tight ball games.

I just don’t see how you can put Gonzalez in right field and risk an injury.  By not putting him in the outfield, how else could you work both Gonzo and Ortiz into the lineup?

This is why the inter league play is overrated and proving once again that it has ran its course.  Time for a change Bud Selig.

I welcome all of your comments on this and if you have a better scenario, please let me know.

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