MINNEAPOLIS -- Through patience and a tweak to his batting mechanics, Mike Napoli went from one of the worst slumps in his career to American League Player of the Week.
The Boston Red Sox (21-24) are hoping for some of the same kind of magic from David Ortiz, who will bat as low as fifth in the order on Tuesday for the first time since 2012. Red Sox manager John Farrell swapped Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval in the No. 3 and 5 holes and put right fielder Rusney Castillo back into the lineup after Boston produced eight hits in Monday's 7-2 loss, ending a three-game streak of at least 10 hits.
"I'm running out of patience a bit, which is when I'm not at my best," Ortiz said. "I have to go back to being patient and swing at the pitches I can drive."
Ortiz typically clobbers his former team, the Minnesota Twins. However, his slump continued on Monday as he went 0-for-4 with a RBI groundout in the series opener.
This isn't new to the veteran 39-year-old slugger, who has climbed out of many stale streaks in his career. He is hitting just .221 through the first two months of the season, and now Boston is hoping a fresh perspective in the lineup can bring more out of his swing after he has failed to reach base in his last 16 at-bats.
The trends are now in place for a revival on Tuesday night: Ortiz is batting .300 from the five-hole in his 19-year career and he crushes the Twins with a .339 average in 61 games, his highest batting average against any opponent he has faced at least 25 times.
As Ortiz was describing his troubles, he noticed a television in the visiting clubhouse at Target Field playing a highlight of New York Mets pitcher Bartolo Colon's second hit of the season in 19 at-bats.
"If Bartolo Colon can get a hit, I can, too, right?" he quipped with a chuckle.
The Sox's most recent lesson in patience came from Napoli, who said he isn't worried about Ortiz or any of Boston's slumping sluggers, including Hanley Ramirez, who is 4-for-22 in his last six games.
"These guys are professional hitters," Napoli said. "They've done it for a long time. We know they're going to hit, we're not panicking about anything. They're going to figure it out. Not everybody is going to be hot at the same time of the year. When other people start struggling, they're going to be there to pick us up. It's how baseball goes."
Taking the mound for the Twins is right-hander Mike Pelfrey (3-1, 3.00 ERA), who started the season begrudgingly in the bullpen and has some success against the middle of Boston's lineup. Ramirez is 10-of-47 [.213] against Pelfrey with seven strikeouts; Sandoval is 4-of-17 [.235] with three strikeouts and Ortiz doesn't have a hit in two career at-bats vs. the right-hander.
"We're going to rely a lot on those three guys in the middle of our order, David, Hanley and Pablo," Farrell said. "Those guys have every ability to be an elite three guys in the lineup, and we're trying to gain a little bit more production and consistency."
Here's Tuesday night's lineup:
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Mookie Betts, CF
Pablo Sandoval, 3B
Hanley Ramirez, LF
David Ortiz, DH
Mike Napoli, 1B
Xander Bogaerts, SS
Rusney Castillo, RF
Sandy Leon, C
P: Clay Buchholz (2-5, 4.58 ERA)