First base manned by Ortiz vs. Dutch

Big Papi in the field lends flexibility to Dominicans in crucial game

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SAN JUAN, P.R. -- David "Big Papi" Ortiz is playing first base for the first time in this year's World Baseball Classic as his Dominican team faces the Netherlands in Game 5 of Pool D play on Tuesday.

"He came to me and told me that his shoulder felt better and that he wanted to play," said Dominican manager Felipe Alou during a dugout chat with the media while his team was taking batting practice before the rematch against the Dutch team. The Netherlands upset the Dominicans in Game 1 of Pool D play, 3-2.

A sore shoulder had restricted Ortiz to designated-hitter duty in his team's first two games in the Classic. By Ortiz taking to the field, Alou has Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes in the same lineup, with Ramirez in the lineup as the designated hitter and Reyes at shortstop.

Ramirez and Reyes had taken turns playing shortstop in the first two games for the Dominican team. Willy Aybar played first base in the game that the Dominicans lost to the Netherlands. Fernando Tatis played first base in the game that the Dominicans won against Panama, 9-0.

Alou wanted to have Reyes and Ramirez in the same lineup, but at the same time, he did not want to risk injury to either player by putting them out of position at second base. Miguel Tejada, another Major League shortstop, is playing third base for the Dominicans in the Classic.

The loser of the game between the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands will be eliminated form the Classic. The winner will earn a berth to Round 2 of the Classic, to be played at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Before heading to Miami, however, the winner will face Puerto Rico on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET to determine the top seed of Pool D.

Will Gonzalez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.