Big Papi searching for groove

Big Papi searching for groove

BOSTON -- Not only did David Ortiz have another tough night on Tuesday, but for the first time since 2003, he was pinch-hit for during a game that was still hanging in the balance. With lefty Matt Harrison on the mound for the Rangers on Wednesday night, Ortiz was replaced in the designated-hitter slot by Mike Lowell, who also pinch-hit for him on Tuesday. Southpaw C.J. Wilson is on tap for Thursday's series finale, and Red Sox manager Terry Francona did not rule out Ortiz sitting out that one as well.

Lowell made an instant statement in the second inning of Wednesday's game, bashing a solo homer over the Green Monster.

One thing Ortiz will do is continue to work. Four hours before Wednesday's game, Ortiz was on the field in workout shorts and a T-shirt taking extra batting practice. He met with Francona in the manager's office in the pregame hours as well, and the topic of Lowell's pinch-hitting appearance came up.

"He didn't fight me on it," Francona said. "I don't know what was said last night. I wouldn't expect anybody, when we pinch-hit for them, to come back and high-five us. He has a lot of pride. He's been an unbelievable player here. I just wanted him to know that we care about all our players and we try to do what we think is right for our team. That's basically what it is."

While Ortiz opted not to formally speak with the media after Tuesday night's game and before Wednesday's game, he seemed to be in good spirits.

The lefty slugger is hitting .146 with no homers and two RBIs.

"Well, he went out today and took extra hitting," Francona said. "And actually, he swung the bat good. He's trying to get his base where he can stay back, because his hands are following his body. When your base [goes], if your head goes, and your hands, everything kind of goes in sync. You can talk about having a loop in your swing or not getting to pitches. But he really wants to try to stay on that back leg so he can start driving the ball to left-center. If he feels like he can drive the ball to left-center, he'll cover more of the plate."

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.