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Red Sox

Who Sits? Red Sox Face Tough Decision With 9-Game NL Swing

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TORONTO, CANADA - JUNE 12: Adrian Gonzalez #28 and David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate a home run during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at The Rogers Centre June 12, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

TORONTO, CANADA – JUNE 12: Adrian Gonzalez #28 and David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate a home run during MLB action against the Toronto Blue Jays at The Rogers Centre June 12, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Red Sox are set to open a nine-game National League road trip with three games in Pittsburgh on Friday, and there is a big dilema for Terry Francona heading in.

The Red Sox will be without the DH for the entire trip, leaving them in a very tough position when it comes to David Ortiz. Despite his current 0-for-8 slump, Ortiz is batting .324 for June with 21 RBI. Without the designated hitter, Francona will have to figure out a way to get Ortiz in the lineup, without taking too much away from Adrian Gonzalez.

As good as Ortiz has been in June, Gonzalez has been even better. His .447 average and 23 RBI have paced the Sox to a 14-5 record, and raised his season batting average up 30 points to .359, tops in the Majors.

One way around it that the Red Sox are exploring; putting Gonzalez in right field. He has played the position just once in major league career back in 2005 with the Rangers. Gonzalez had three putouts in four chances, the other one being an error. Gonzalez did tell Francona he would be willing to make the move, but Tito is still uncertain if he will pull the trigger.

“I guess the best answer I can give you is we’ll see,” the Sox manager said earlier in the week. “I’m glad he’s willing to do it. I think that’s admirable. I don’t want David to sit nine straight games. That bothers me.”

Read: Sox Recall Atchison, Option Bowden

“Tito always finds a way to put us in and make sure we don’t miss that much time,” Ortiz said. “(I’ll) be patient, there are a lot of good players around.”

With both players playing so well, it is a real tough spot for Francona to be in. It would make little sense to sit Gonzalez though, or even risk injury in the outfield. Maybe sitting Ortiz to start games and then using him as a pinch-hitter in the mid to late inning (depending on the situation) is the best option. Ortiz could always start a couple of games at first base, spelling Gonzalez during the road swing, with Gonzo coming in as a pinch-hitting and taking over at first.

It’s a tough dilemma; one that Terry Francona will have a difficult time figuring out.

Read: Sox Announce Makeup Date For May Rain Out

Francona also had to shuffle his starting rotation, with Josh Beckett still fighting off the “intestinal turmoil” that kept him from his Tuesday start against the Padres. Beckett was slated to pitch Saturday, but will be pushed back until Tuesday’s series opener against the Phillies.

Tim Wakefield will get the start in Beckett’s spot on Saturday.

As for the Pirates… they have a real nice ballpark. They are currently 37-37, which is pretty good for a team that has had 18-straight losing seasons.

Pitching Matchups For Weekend Series In Pittsburgh

Friday 7:05pm

  • Jon Lester (9-3, 3.70 ERA) vs Paul Maholm (3-8, 3.29 ERA)

Saturday 7:05pm

  • Tim Wakefield (4-2, 4.26 ERA) vs Jeff Karstens (4-4, 2.54 ERA)

Sunday 1:35pm

  • Andrew Miller (0-0, 4.76 ERA) vs James McDonald (5-4, 4.86 ERA)
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