Talkin Sox with Dan

Where baseball fans gather for commonsensical, opinionated Red Sox banter.

Peace of Mind

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“This [expletive] has been driving me crazy. I got no choice but to wait. I hope it goes away soon so I can get back into action.”

David Ortiz is in a tough spot. This offseason, he signed a two-year deal worth $26MM. He is at least 37-years old and is dealing with pain that is related to an injury he suffered last July

We are approaching eight full months since he suffered the injury, and fans are growing impatient.

In an ideal world, Ortiz would be batting third or fourth in a number of Spring Training games, slapping doubles off of the left field wall at JetBlue Park and driving balls deep over the right field fence.

But he’s not.

Instead, he’s undergoing MRI’s, occasionally running the bases, and taking batting practice from time to time. Ortiz is frustrated. He is sore. Quite frankly, he’s pretty pissed off.

“You always definitely need to play in spring training, because you need to see the game action. Whoever tells me they don’t have to play in spring training, I’m calling [expletive]. We have spring training for a reason.”

Big Papi is caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, he needs to do everything he possibly can to be ready as soon as possible. The Red Sox cannot afford to get off to a bad start for the third straight year. On the other hand, Ortiz has to be sure that when he suits up for his first game, he is back for good. On Monday, Ortiz admitted that Opening Day may be a long shot.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that the MRIs he underwent this past weekend revealed inflammation in each of his heels but no structural damage to his Achilles. I’m not close to being a doctor, but it’s clear that Ortiz has been compensating for the weakness he’s felt in his Achilles. Because of that, he has been dealing with a considerable amount of pain. Once that soreness subsides, the slugger will be able to begin chipping away at the roughly 50 at-bats he will need before he is major league game ready.

The Red Sox seem determined to be sure that when Ortiz is ready to come back, he is as close to 100 percent as possible. And when Ortiz is back, he will have the peace of mind in knowing that the pain he felt in the beginning of Spring Training was due to inflammation, not a setback concerning his Achilles strain from last summer. The fact that the Red Sox best hitter has been shut down for a period of time is disconcerting. There is no doubt about that. But the reactions from fans have been a little surprising to me.

This is the same guy who played an absolutely vital role in bringing two championships to this town, right? The 2004 ALCS? Ring a bell? The guy is a God of Boston. You’re going to tell your grandchildren about this dude. And if none of that is good enough — guess what? He’s still extremely productive. Before injuring his Achilles last season, Ortiz posted a 318/.415/.611 line to go along with 23 home runs. He’s pretty good at baseball.

Look, I get the complaints over signing him to a two-year deal, but let’s not make it seem like it’s a five-year deal worth $100MM. He’s a good player, and the Red Sox need him. The best thing for Ortiz, the Red Sox, and us is to be patient.

It will be worth the wait.

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6 thoughts on “Peace of Mind

  1. Bruce Harvey on said:

    Dan, I love your blog. Wish you would post more often. With Ortiz, I have to say I am very disappointed with his whole attitude. Yes, he says all the right things to the press and fans. That said, this was an Achilles sprain, not a tear. He has had months to properly rest and rehab. My guess is he did nothing during the off season to help, expecting to get in shape during Spring training. It doesn’t work that way. There is no excuse for his poor work ethic in strengthening and stretching during the off season so he would be ready. If he really is a “team” player, he would have given 110% to the off season regimen and be ready for April. He is not. Management should have been all over him during the off season. As a result of a lack of focus on both sides, he will be lucky to play 80 games. This guy really frustrates me. Thanks for letting me rant.

    • Bruce, first, thanks for your kind words. I could be guilty of being an Ortiz apologist — I get that. But I did ask John Tomase of the Boston Herald (via Twitter) about the idea that fans will likely point to the idea that Ortiz should have done more in the offseason to ensure that Spring Training base running drills wouldn’t cause the pain that he has experienced. In other words, couldn’t have Ortiz ramped up his running and gotten through this phase of the rehab earlier in the offseason? Tomase said that he simply couldn’t run in the offseason, and it’s killing him not being out there. Tomase’s not a doctor, but neither am I. I think it’s a tough situation. But what I do know is that the Red Sox need him healthy. Thank you again for commenting.

      • Bruce on said:

        OK, Dan. We are 11 days since we both last posted. How are you feeling about Ortiz? I am not so confident he will be back soon and wonder if he will be significantly hindered in his ability to be productive, if and when he does come back (re-injury possibility? You bet.). I am feeling very pessimistic. I know a lot of options have been proposed (Napoli to DH, one of our young infielders to 1st) and think we may need to look at a long term plan as I feel Ortiz may be on the wane. Thoughts?

  2. Bruce, you’re right. Guilty as charged. My only excuse is that I was on vacation. I’m working on a post recapping a few observations from my time in Fort Myers.

    Your concerns about Ortiz are fair. I prefer to take solace in the fact that his Achilles is no longer injured. He has pain/soreness is the area around the Achilles, notably his heel. Without being a doctor, I’d like to believe that that soreness is a result of some overcompensation.

    I made this mistake of writing off Ortiz in ’09/’10, so I won’t do that again — until I see him play. Let’s see if he can begin playing in games around (or before) May 1.

    • Dan, a question: If you love David Ortiz so much, why don’t you just stupid marry him?

      Also, I’d like to read your opinion on the Bradley Jr. debate.

  3. Andy, I tried to. But he asked for a pre-nup.

    JBJ coming soon.

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