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Bruised knee sidelines Big Papi

Bruised knee sidelines Big Papi

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ST. PETERSBURG -- For the second straight game, the Red Sox were without the services of designated hitter David Ortiz, who bruised his right knee diving into first base Friday night.

"I actually talked to him [Saturday] night after the game," manager Terry Francona said." "I said, 'Let's check in the morning. He said, 'I'm sore, but don't count me out yet.' I visited with him this morning, and he said he was sore, so I said, 'OK, we've got the day off tomorrow, let's not do something silly.'"

Francona dealt with knee problems during his playing career and said often times a bruised knee can be painful to move.

"He'll get worked on, let it calm down," Francona said.

Big Papi was sliding into first base in an attempt to beat the throw, as the Rays' double play ended the Red Sox's chance for the go-ahead run in the 11th inning on Friday night. Boston went on to lose, 4-3, to Tampa Bay and has lost its last four games.

At the time, Francona said he was glad the slugger wanted to get to first base that badly and noted it said a lot about the DH's fierce competitiveness.

"I'm glad he wanted to get to first that bad," said Francona. "It was a big run, [and] he wanted to get there."

It would have been a big lift for the slumping slugger. Ortiz is 24-for-96, bringing his early season batting average to .177.

The Sox's other heavyweight hitter, Manny Ramirez, is taking a half day of sorts. The left fielder will assume Ortiz's DH duties for Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Rays.

"I think there are days when it does him some good," Francona said. "I think he'd rather play the outfield. We gave him a heads-up [Saturday] night that we can do this. Because of who he is, we try to check with him if there's a day like this available, day game after a night game. If Ortiz is not going to play, we might as well take advantage of ... letting them have a game where they can just be the DH."

But for a team hit hard by injuries and sickness, Francona said Boston fans needn't worry about losing Ramirez in left field.

"I think he probably likes it sometimes, but I don't think he would like doing it every day," he said.

Jacoby Ellsbury shifted to left field on Sunday, with Coco Crisp in center field and J.D. Drew making his regular appearance in right.

Brittany Ghiroli is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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