Growing up a Red Sox fan, I always had those players that I held close to my heart. When I was a kid, I named players like Rick Burleson, Jerry Remy and Carl Yastrzemski as my favorites. But as an adult, I hesitated to deem one particular player my favorite. Well… there was that one time, back in my early 20‘s when I was obsessed with Phil Plantier, but that was purely a physical attraction, definitely not for his mad baseball skills. [Insert sarcasm here.] Seems these days guys just don’t stick around long enough with one team to be worthy of that title.
There has always been something about David Ortiz that makes me want to hug him and buy him a beer. He’s always smiling, always patting a teammate on the back (or helmet), and rarely does something that makes me cringe. When the Sox signed the 37-year-old DH to a two year contract during this past off season, I was happy that he wouldn’t be going to another team. I had hoped the Sox could keep him through the end of his career— even with his bum heel.
Speaking about a bum heel… the achilles strain Ortiz suffered nearly eight months ago is still giving him fits. An achilles strain tends to linger more than a rupture since there isn’t anything surgical doctors can do for just a pesky strain. So he continues to work out and attempt to run bases, but it hasn’t been working out too well for him. At least his hitting doesn’t appear to be suffering.
Peter Abraham from the Boston Globe wrote this about David Ortiz today—pretty much sums it up as far as I’m concerned. The Sox need Ortiz and his big bat.
The Red Sox were working on learning signals Friday afternoon, a drill that involved players taking swings at balls thrown by a pitching machine while their teammates were on the bases.
When David Ortiz came to the plate, he defeated the purpose of the exercise by belting a ball high over the wall in center field.
It was a reminder of what Ortiz means to the Red Sox — and how significant his absence would be to start the season.
If Big Papi could just saunter up to the plate and knock the ball around without having to run the bases, no one would be worried about him. It’s not like he’s a base stealing machine or anything, but it would really suck if he was thrown out at first on a double to the right field corner. He had to be able to at least beat that throw.
Throughout his tenure with the Red Sox, Big Papi has had his ups and downs with the bat. For the most part, he’s been durable and in his 10 seasons, he has played in 145 games or more in seven of those. This makes it tougher to swallow the fact that he might not be in the line up on Opening Day.
So what do the Sox do if Ortiz can’t go on April 1st? It could be a disaster or it could be an opportunity for someone else to shine. If you ask me, I think this is a perfect opportunity to see what Jackie Bradley can do in the big league. He might not have the raw power that Papi has but he sure knows how to get on base.