Youkilis is odd man out in Game 3
With DH option out, Red Sox go with Big Papi at first base
DENVER -- One hitter that the Red Sox rely on heavily was going to have to sit in Game 3 of the World Series. There was simply no way around it. Under National League rules, the Red Sox no longer have a designated hitter, which has forced manager Terry Francona into moving star slugger David Ortiz to first base.
Mike Lowell will stay at third, which means that red-hot Kevin Youkilis -- Boston's everyday first baseman who can also play the hot corner -- will open Game 3 on the bench.
Francona isn't sure whether he'll stick with the same alignment for Game 4.
"Well, I think David is a really good hitter, and I think Mike Lowell is a really good hitter, and I actually think Youk is a really good hitter," said Francona, "but they won't let us play all three of them. So we'll go with this. The hope would be we'd have a lead, we'll put Youk in late. It doesn't always work perfect, but we'll do the best we can."
Youkilis took a team-first attitude.
"I mean, I think people are making this out to be a little bit more than it is," said Youkilis, who's hitting .396 in the postseason. "We're here to try to win a World Series. You can't be upset. We're in a great position right now. We're up two games to none. If you're worried about your playing time and this and that, I think you're in the wrong spot. This is the World Series. You've just got to be happy to go out and help in any capacity you can."
Ortiz last played first base on June 24. In all, Ortiz started seven games at first base in 2007 and didn't make an error. He has no fewer than three gloves to choose from on Saturday night.
"They're all brand new," quipped Big Papi.
The only reason Francona had hedged slightly on whether Ortiz would start the three games at Coors Field is because of the right knee that has troubled him all year long.
Ortiz thinks his knee is good enough to get by for, at the most, three days of defense.
"When we're 2-0, [the knee] feels great," Ortiz said. "Right now, I have no pain. I have a little bit of swelling, but the pain is not as bad as it gets sometimes. The other day when I was working at first base, when I finished, it felt a little bit crazy. But this is it, bro. After this, there's no other [series]."
The deciding factor between Lowell and Youkilis was probably the defense of the latter. Lowell is a terrific defender at third, while Youkilis played just 12 games there this season. Also, Lowell drove in 120 runs for the Red Sox during the season, and he's hitting .333 in the postseason with a homer and 12 RBIs.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.