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Red Sox pregame notes: David Ortiz slumping but not injured; Sox open to waiver trade upgrade; Xander Bogaerts’ future position

08.29.13 at 6:19 pm ET
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For David Ortiz, this qualifies as an epic slump. He has gone hitless since August 18, making five starts in which he’s worn an oh-fer — matching the most consecutive starts without a hit he’s ever had in his career, and representing the longest such rut he’s endured since an 0-for-17 stretch over five starts in 2008. He is 0-for-18 in 20 plate appearances (the other two plate appearances yielding an intentional walk and a sac fly).

He still leads the Sox in every significant offensive category. Ortiz is hitting .313 with 24 homers and 79 RBI, along with a .393 OBP and .563 slugging mark.For the year, he has been one of the elite hitters in the game, a fact reflected by his 18 intentional walks .

So what gives with the slump?

“He’s gotten some pitches that he’s missed,” noted manager John Farrell. “At times, he might get a little pull-conscious where he’s pulling off the ball at times and making the swing a little bit long. He’s going through some early work on the field right now to address some of those situations. It’s more than anything maybe getting a little bit overaggressive at times. We’ve all seen when he’s been at his best is when he’s driving the ball to left-center field. I know he’s working to get back to that right now.”

The slump coincides with the start of the Sox’ trip to the West Coast, during which Ortiz spent time playing first base. He did at one point exit a game last Wednesday due to tightness in his lower back — a condition, it is worth noting. But Farrell — who noted that Ortiz was available all weekend — said that the offensive struggles were not a byproduct of any physical ailment.

“As far as the low back affecting the swing, he’s not indicated anything along those lines,” said Ortiz.

OTHER RED SOX NOTES

– Farrell on whether he sees Xander Bogaerts as a shortstop or third baseman:

“Xander’s going to tell us, more than anyone just taking a quick look at him to say where his best position is on the field,” said the Sox manager. “He’s most comfortable at shortstop. He’s 20 years old. He’s got a big frame. He’s certainly going to be a big person when he reaches his maturity probably in another five years. To rush to a judgment, he’ll determine by his play where he’s best suited.

Bogaerts has been learning third base on the fly both in Triple-A and the big league level. Farrell said that he was impressed with the phenom’s aptitude and ability to remain calm and confident in the big league environment, something that is allowing him to learn at the game’s highest level rather than being overwhelmed by it.

“This environment and these games are much different than spring training,” said Farrell. “To see the same temperament, to see the same ease with which he goes about things, the genuine confidence that’€™s there, we might be more anxious for him than he is for himself in this setting, just because of the limited experience. He’s a pretty special person.”

– The Aug. 31 deadline for making trades for players who are either claimed off of waivers or clear waivers is nigh. Just two days remain for teams to add players from outside the organization who can be eligible for the postseason roster. The Sox have already acquired outfielder Quintin Berry from the Royals (for Clayton Mortensen) — Berry will make his first start in Triple-A Pawtucket on Thursday — and Farrell suggested that the team will continue to explore the possibility of an upgrade, though he suggested that there is not an acute need to add a right-handed pitcher.

“If there are ways we can improve, I know that those steps will be taken,” said Farrell. “Concern [about the limited number of right-handed options in the bullpen]? No, not really. We’ve got left-handers, in [Craig] Breslow‘s case, that can get right-handers out. Now, to say that we’d go up against four right-handers in the eighth inning with a left-hander, we wouldn’t. But in a short period of time, [Brandon] Workman has gained a lot of responsibility, or is continuing to. I know he hasn’t been on the mound in a little while. But if there’s someone out there that makes sense for us to acquire, we might see that.”

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