Off to worst start of career, Ortiz not in lineup vs. Yanks

Updated: April 14, 2008, 12:18 AM ET
Associated Press

BOSTON -- David Ortiz was out of the starting lineup for the Red Sox against the Yankees on Sunday night after getting off to the worst start of his career.

David Ortiz

Ortiz

Manny Ramirez moved to Ortiz's designated hitter spot and Jacoby Ellsbury took Ramirez's place in left field.

"Just trying to figure things out for a minute so I can go back to being Big Papi again," Ortiz said before Boston's 8-5 defeat of New York .

His right knee that had offseason surgery was "fine" and his problem is more mental than physical, he said.

Ortiz, batting .070 with 3 hits in 43 at bats, was to work with hitting coach Dave Magadan.

"I talked to David real quick on Saturday," manager Terry Francona said. "I still think it's the right thing to do. He needed a break. He'll get his work in with Mags. You can see it's weighing on him."

Ortiz was happy that Francona gave him advance notice.

"You see this in baseball, a guy having a hard time, go home, chill out, come back with a fresh mind. It happens to everybody," he said. "And I guess that's when managers know when they need to bring something like that to the table. I always do what Terry tells me to do. I'm an employee."

Ortiz, who had arthroscopic knee surgery in the offseason, had played in all 12 previous games. He started the season in an 0-for-12 slump and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats, his worst stretch since he went 0-for-17 in August 2004. He went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in Saturday night's 4-3 win over New York.

"Yeah. I'm fine [physically]. I'm not like I would like to be but I'm OK," Ortiz said. "I've just got to regroup and pull myself together and stop thinking so much and fighting with myself. I've been there before, that's why I know I'm going to be out of it at one point. It happens to all of us, man."

Ortiz had surgery to repair damaged cartilage in his right knee after Boston swept the Colorado Rockies for its second World Series championship in four years. He hit .370 with three homers in the postseason despite the injury.

It bothered him for much of last season but he still hit a career-high .332 with 35 homers and 117 RBIs in the regular season.

He wouldn't reveal what he's doing wrong now.

"I don't want nobody to know, man," Ortiz said. "It's bad, man. It's bad. I'll fix it, guys. I'll be all right."

J.D. Drew, who entered the game with a .387 batting average and three homers, hit third in place of Ortiz and one spot before Ramirez.

Ramirez went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs Saturday.

"It's nice to see him hitting, especially when David is not," Francona said. "That pair has meant so much to us over the past few years."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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