HOUSTON -- For the second -- and probably last -- time on this nine-game road trip against National League teams, David Ortiz was in the starting lineup for Saturday night's game against the Astros.
With no designated hitter for the entirety of the trip, Ortiz played first, while Adrian Gonzalez got the start in right.
Though the slugger entered the game 0-for-8 with a walk on the trip, manager Terry Francona thinks he's gotten just enough playing time to stay sharp. Ortiz will get his full-time job back on Monday, when the Red Sox return to face the Blue Jays for the start of a seven-game homestand.
"I'm actually pretty happy now," Francona said. "We've gotten through seven games, he's got, what, nine at-bats? Before this trip started, I was thinking, 'This is going to be a tough trip.' Late last night, he [fouled one off] to left field, hard. He's got his stroke. [I'm] thrilled about that."
In other lineup news, Jacoby Ellsbury returned to the leadoff spot after missing Friday night's game with an illness.
J.D. Drew got the night off against lefty starter J.A. Happ, with Darnell McDonald starting in right. Did Francona think about starting the red-hot Josh Reddick?
"You know what, we certainly could have done that today," Francona said. "I don't think [Reddick] really gets too affected by lefty-righty."
It turns out that Francona's main thinking with the move is his determination to get McDonald on some type of roll. McDonald entered the game hitting .115 with one homer and three RBIs.
"I really do want [McDonald] to face some of these lefties, because of what he can do," Francona said. "I want us to get [McDonald] hot. [McDonald] spent all that time behind [Mike Cameron], [and] didn't get the at-bats. Then he goes and gets his rehab in Triple-A and he swung the bat great, and he came here and looked like he was going to swing it good and then kind of went the other way, so I want to get him going a little bit."