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Francona flexible with lineup

Francona flexible with lineup

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Red Sox's lineup began a new era on Tuesday.

David Ortiz, who had not batted anywhere but third in Boston's order lineup since May 2005, is no longer the No. 3 hitter. J.D. Drew batted third on Tuesday while Ortiz slid to sixth, and Kevin Youkilis batted third on Monday while Ortiz was given a day off.

"When you hit third, you must be swinging the bat good," Ortiz said. "I'm not, obviously. I'm moving to sixth because we have guys who are going to bat good."

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Manager Terry Francona acknowledged Tuesday night that he doesn't yet know what his lineup will look like even on Wednesday.

"I can see our lineup being a little fluid for a little while," Francona said. "I can see us moving around a little bit here. Youk could hit third, we could hit [Dustin Pedroia] third -- there's a lot of things we could do. I just don't want to get too philosophical into [Tuesday's] lineup, because it might change."

The fluidity will begin immediately.

"In the next few days ... we may not have our full lineup," Francona said. "We are on turf, we have some quick turnarounds, we are going to see how guys come through these games and how they are swinging, how they feel."

Ortiz had not batted lower than fourth in the lineup prior to Tuesday since May 2004.

"The best course of action, I always feel, is to let guys play," Francona said. "If they are good -- it's happened a lot here, we've been patient -- good players rise to their level. I don't want to get in the way of that. I just felt like it was time to take a little heat off of him."

Ortiz went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk on Tuesday.

"The goal is not like tomorrow to get him back to No. 3," Francona said. "I actually think when he is swinging the bat and hitting third, we are a better team. I definitely think that, that's why he's hit there for the last few years and why he started out this year. All things being equal, yeah I think we are better team -- but they aren't equal right now, so we made a change."

Pitching matchup
BOS: RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (0-2, 10.32 ERA)
The enigmatic right-hander was unimpressive in his return from the disabled list on Friday, yielding four runs on five hits over five innings against the Mets at Fenway Park. He came undone in a three-run fourth inning, when New York strung together three RBI singles in a span of four at-bats against the Japanese righty. Still winless in three starts this season, Matsuzaka is 2-0 with a 1.61 ERA in three career appearances against Minnesota.

MIN: RHP Kevin Slowey (6-1, 4.23 ERA)
One start after throwing 7 2/3 innings against the Yankees in a no-decision in New York, Slowey picked up his sixth win of the season on Friday by going 7 1/3 innings against a red-hot Brewers team. He allowed just two earned runs in the start. Unlike during his start in New York, Slowey benefited from some run support, as Michael Cuddyer's cycle propelled the Twins to an 11-3 victory. Slowey will be facing the Red Sox for the first time this season.

Tidbits
Rocco Baldelli was fine one day after experiencing a tight hamstring in Monday's victory over Minnesota, according to Francona. ... Francona said he wasn't concerned about closer Jonathan Papelbon, who has surrendered two-run homers in his past two appearances. "Up to this point, he's been really really good. I think it happens to everybody. It happens to Pap less than it happens to most guys," Francona said. The home run Papelbon allowed to Joe Mauer on Monday came with a three-run lead. "The good news is that he didn't hang his head and walk somebody after that and give up another hit so we're still playing," Francona said. "He knows we're supposed to win by one and he values that, which I appreciate. ... When he gives up runs and we win, you can never tell when he's coming off the field. I like that trait about him a lot." .... Could Clay Buchholz, who took a perfect game into the ninth inning on Monday for Triple-A Pawtucket, be frustrated with not having been called up yet? "If the callups were on their schedule, we'd have a 55-man roster," Francona said. "We said we wanted Buch to kind of knock the door down. He's sort of trying to do that. Good for him. We're pleased; beyond pleased. He's done terrific."

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• NESN

On radio
• WEEI 850, SBN 1150 (Español)

Up next
• Thursday: Red Sox (Josh Beckett, 4-2, 5.01) at Twins (Anthony Swarzak, 1-0, 0.00), 1:10 p.m. ET
• Friday: Red Sox (Tim Wakefield, 6-2, 3.99) at Blue Jays (TBD), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Saturday: Red Sox (Brad Penny, 5-1, 5.96) at Blue Jays (TBD), 1:07 p.m. ET

Thor Nystrom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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