Francona tackled that objective more than once on Tuesday afternoon before Boston's matchup with American League East-leading Tampa Bay. By Francona's daily managerial press conference at 4 p.m. ET, he'd tweaked his lineup just a bit.
Originally, Francona had Manny Ramirez batting fourth playing left field, Jacoby Ellsbury leading off playing center and Sean Casey hitting eighth as the DH. But when the lineup was posted, Ellsbury moved to left, Ramirez as the DH and Coco Crisp taking Casey's spot in the order while playing center field
With Ramirez dogged by sore legs -- a common occurrence since mid-May when Ramirez did not start a contest with Minnesota due to a sore right hamstring and has hampered the left fielder -- the slugger was moved from his regular position in left for Tuesday's game to the designated hitter's role.
"Yeah, Manny's legs are a little sore," Francona said. "We'll plug him in [as the DH] tonight.
"His legs were bothering him in Baltimore. He came up to me before that first game and he said, 'I'm struggling a little bit.' "
Still, with Ortiz unavailable and Ramirez currently crushing virtually every opposing pitcher's offerings with power, the slugger will remain in the lineup despite the fatigued legs. Ramirez has hit a homer in each of his last three games, and it appears the slugger regained his dangerous hitting form from April.
"It looks like he's starting to get that swing again, and that's a nice feeling to have," Francona said. "If you put him in the middle [of the lineup], it makes everybody else better."
Francona said he doesn't think his slugger wants to be an every day designated hitter, but fortunately due to the team's depth, Ramirez won't have to be.
"We've got Casey; we can move guys around," Francona said. "Some teams do that to keep up the production. We'll mix and match a little bit. There won't be one main guy in the DH spot."
Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.