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Big Papi's weekend off ends

Big Papi's weekend off ends
SEATTLE (AP) - Big Papi's big hiatus is coming to an end.

David Ortiz completed his weekend off, staying out of Boston's lineup for the third consecutive day Sunday as the Red Sox finished their last West Coast swing of the season with a 3-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. Jason Bay moved up from fourth to third for Ortiz, and Rocco Baldelli was the designated hitter for the third straight game.

The plan is for the struggling power hitter - who is batting .208 and has yet to hit a home run in 158 plate appearances this season - to spend Boston's off day resting before he returns Tuesday when the Red Sox host AL East-leading Toronto for a three-game series.

But will Ortiz be back in his customary No. 3 spot in the lineup?

"I don't know," said manager Terry Francona, never one to reveal lineups ahead of time. "I want to talk to him first. I've left him be."

Boston also has usual cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list Wednesday from a left oblique strain. Francona said he's "going to see where we are" with Youkilis getting back before deciding whether to move Ortiz out of the prime run-producing spot he's held for four years.

The last time Ortiz started at anywhere other than in the No. 3 hole was May 13, 2005, at Seattle, his last game of a stint as the cleanup hitter.

His last time batting lower than the third, fourth of fifth spots was May 11, 2004, when he went 3 for 4 batting sixth against Cleveland.

On Friday, Francona said he didn't consider moving Ortiz down much before opting to let him to take "a deep breath" on the bench instead. The manager said such a move causes an unwanted chain reaction throughout the lineup.

Ortiz, a 33-year-old five-time All-Star, is without a home run in 144 at-bats. His only longer homerless streak was 145 at-bats from Sept. 9, 1998-June 9, 2000 - and that was over partial seasons coming up with Minnesota.

Ortiz hit 112 home runs from 2006-08 but has not hit one since Sept. 22 against Cleveland's Zach Jackson at Fenway Park. His slugging percentage of .300 entering Sunday was 74 points lower than Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston's speedy leadoff batter. Ortiz's lowest slugging percentage for a full season in the major leagues is .446, in 2000 with the Twins.

"He's stepped back. ... I think these three days will be good for him - that's the hope," Francona said, adding Ortiz's body language and demeanor has improved to "OK."

Ortiz spent his pregame hours recharging his laptop for the cross-country flight home after the game, signing baseballs for a Seattle clubhouse attendant and again wearing headphones as he received hugs and back slaps of encouragement from team staffers and clubhouse visitors.

"What's up guys?" Ortiz said when approached by The Associated Press.

He then declined to speak for the third consecutive day, since he advised reporters to "just put down 'Papi stinks"' following an 0-for-7 day when he stranded 12 base runners in a loss at the Los Angeles Angels.

Baldelli was 0 for 11 with seven strikeouts in three games as the designated hitter for Ortiz, as Boston lost two of three in Seattle. J.D. Drew and Bay were 3 for 11 (.272) with one strikeout and one extra-base hit in the No. 3 spot.

Ortiz is batting .208.

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 18, 2009

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