Notes: Lineup hindered in Colorado
With Ortiz shifting to first, either Youkilis or Lowell to sit
BOSTON -- When the Red Sox begin the road portion of this World Series on Saturday at Colorado, they will lose a key member of their starting nine. The only question is which one it will be.
Without a designated hitter, David Ortiz will have to play first base to stay in the lineup. If manager Terry Francona opts to do that, he'll then have to sit either red-hot Kevin Youkilis (.500, three homers in the American League Championship Series) or his top RBI man from the regular season, Mike Lowell.
Though Youkilis plays first base regularly, his natural position is third base. All year long, third baseman Lowell (120 RBIs) has been a key force behind the big bopper tandem of Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.
The other issue is that Ortiz has been playing with pain in his right knee all year, so there's no guarantee he'd be in the lineup for all three road games at Coors Field. Lefty ace Jeff Francis is on tap for Game 5, so if Ortiz was to be out of the lineup, that could be the night.
"It is difficult," said Francona. "It puts us at a disadvantage. The team that we set up to play 154 of our games, we don't get to send out there. Some of it may have to depend on how David's knee feels. So we're really not set. Youkilis, Lowell and Ortiz, two out of three play. We'll get to that when they know more."
Youkilis will not be surprised if he doesn't play any games at first in Denver.
"You have to look back to the 2004 World Series," said Youkilis. "I think David will play first base."
In '04, Ortiz started Games 3 and 4 in St. Louis and was replaced on defense in the late innings. There was no Game 5, because the Red Sox swept the series.
Outfield alignment: With Francis drawing the nod for the Rockies in Game 1, Francona had to make a decision between left-handed-hitting Jacoby Ellsbury and switch-hitter Coco Crisp. Ellsbury, who took over for the slumping Crisp in Game 6 of the ALCS, will get the nod. Crisp's health is also a factor. He caught the final out of Game 7, running into the wall and banging his left knee.
"Coco banged himself pretty good the other night," Francona said. "He was actually unavailable for most of the workout today. He's getting treatment. He came out and got in the box off of [Jon] Lester just to see some pitches, but he's not feeling real good. Not to the point where we'll take him off the roster, but probably to the point where -- it made a very difficult decision maybe not quite as difficult."
Though Bobby Kielty twice drew starts against lefty C.C. Sabathia in the ALCS, Francona will stick with J.D. Drew in right field against Francis.
Formidable foe: Though the AL is known for all deep lineups, the Red Sox don't see any letup from the Rockies.
"They've got some speed at the top, they've got their thumpers in the middle," said Red Sox ace Josh Beckett. "They do kind of remind me a little bit of an American League team the way that they're set up. They've got some really good at-bats at the bottom of their lineup. They can hit."
"They've got every guy from top to bottom that will either have speed, put the ball in play or hit home runs," said Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. "We've got to go out there and find a way to combat that and make pitches."
Gagne willing to do whatever: After taking the loss in Game 2 of the ALCS with a rough outing, Eric Gagne rebounded with a pair of scoreless outings, including a 1-2-3 ninth in Game 6.
Will that help Gagne's confidence in his first World Series?
"It was just good to go out there and put up a zero," said Gagne. "I feel great physically. I just have to go out there and do my job."
In his last two outings, Gagne was used in situations where the game was not hanging in the balance.
"All I care about is winning," Gagne said. "I don't care when I pitch. I just want to help the team win the World Series. That's all I came here for and that's all I'm focused on."
Pregame festivities: Just as they did to start the 2004 World Series, the Red Sox will bring out captain Carl Yastrzemski to throw out the first pitch before Wednesday night's Game 1. Yastrzemski, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, played his entire career (1961-83) with the Red Sox, amassing 3,419 hits and 452 home runs. Yaz won the triple crown in 1967, a feat no Major Leaguer has matched since.
All year long, the 1967 Red Sox have been celebrated by the Red Sox. With that in mind, Yaz will be joined by several of his '67 teammates during the pre-game ceremony.
John Williams, a renowned American composer and conductor - not to mention a five-time Academy Award winner - will conduct the Boston Pops in playing the national anthem. Recording artist Ashanti will sing God Bless American during the seventh inning stretch.
There will be a flyover from the 158 Fighter Wing of the Vermont National Guard. First pitch is set for 8:35 p.m. ET on FOX.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.