Francona faces lineup decision

World Series Notes

BOSTON - With the World Series shifting to Denver for Game 3 tomorrow night, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona faces a difficult lineup riddle.

The designated hitter will not be used in the National League city. That means Francona has to find a way to get David Ortiz's big bat into the lineup, and the domino effect from that could mean that another good hitter has to sit.

As long as Ortiz's balky right knee doesn't act up, it appears he will displace Kevin Youkilis at first base. Ortiz played seven games at first this season. He last played there in June, during interleague play.

Wanting to keep Ortiz in the lineup is understandable. Boston's No. 3 hitter batted .332 with 35 homers and 117 RBIs this season. His on-base percentage was .445 and his slugging percentage was .621.

Entering Game 2 of the World Series last night, he was hitting .417 with three homers, eight RBIs, a .549 on-base percentage, and an .806 slugging percentage this postseason.

Youkilis, who hits second, was hitting .422 with four homers and 10 RBIs in this postseason. His on-base percentage was .491 and his slugging percentage was .822.

Sitting Youkilis won't be easy. He has played left field in his career, but playing him in the spacious expanses of Coors Field does not appear to be an option. Francona isn't about to sit leftfielder Manny Ramirez, and he appears to want J.D. Drew in right for defense.

Youkilis played 13 games at third base this season and could start there. That would mean Mike Lowell has to sit. He was the Sox' leading RBI man with 120 during the regular season and had 11 more in his first 11 postseason games.

Francona will use today's off day to ponder his decision.

"When it comes down to the reality of it, two out of three will play," said Francona, referring to Ortiz, Youkilis and Lowell. "It's disappointing because we like when all three of them play. They're all mainstays in our lineup."

- Jim Salisbury