BOSTON -- When the Red Sox depart for a nine-game, National League city road trip later this week in which they lose the designated hitter, Adrian Gonzalez might have just enough versatility to create some playing time for David Ortiz.
Gonzalez played one Major League game in the outfield -- starting in right field for the Texas Rangers in 2005. He also played a season of winter ball in right.
If Gonzalez could give the Red Sox some spot starts in the outfield during the trip through Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Houston, it could open up some time for Papi to start at first base.
Gonzalez and Ortiz have been Boston's two most productive hitters this season. Carl Crawford is currently on the disabled list, so the fit of Gonzalez playing the outfield on the upcoming trip would be at least a little better than normal.
"I wouldn't say it was willingness; it's the fact that I've done it before," Gonzalez said. "If I was approached on it, if Tito wanted to do that for a couple of games, I'd be OK with it. I know I'm not an outfielder, but if it meant [a chance] to get Papi in the game, it's definitely something I would do."
Would manager Terry Francona do it?
"I guess the best thing I could tell you is we'll see," Francona said. "Maybe a couple of times just to kind of get David where he doesn't go 10 days without playing, because that worries me. And Gonzi, I know [he] did it [before]. I know he's done it in winter ball, and there's a few right field's on this trip that aren't huge. We'll see."
While the Red Sox would obviously be a better offensive team with Gonzalez and Ortiz in the lineup, Francona knows that alignment would also weaken the team at two spots defensively.
"It's got to work though," Francona said. "I don't want to outsmart myself. We'll see."
Padres manager Bud Black was in the other dugout -- as pitching coach for the Angels -- when Gonzalez made his only career start in the outfield.
"I've seen it live," Black said. "I saw it when he was with Texas and I was in Anaheim. He's a good athlete. He's got good hand-eye coordination. You've seen him catch fly balls here. He's got good hands. Could I imagine it? Yeah. Would he have the range of Carl Crawford? No."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.