Who could replace David Ortiz?
It wouldn’t be a classic Red Sox Spring Training without some drama, and David Ortiz’s recent trip to the DL has not disappointed.
David Ortiz went down last July with a strain to his Achilles tendon, and has not resumed full baseball activities since. Ortiz has done what he can do get himself back into shape for the season, but due to the pain in his ankle he cannot run full speed and is very far from playing in a game.
Last week Big Papi was shut down until the Sox docs could figure out what to do with him, and the future is just as murky now as it was a week ago. You cannot doubt the important role that Ortiz plays for the Sox. He is one of the best DH’s of all time, and the Sox fell apart quickly after he went down for good last season. Without Ortiz the Sox lose their only legitimate power threat and that is a big chunk of the offense they cannot afford to lose considering their current lineup.
Still Ortiz remains optimistic that he will return full force this season, just not for a little while.
“It’s not anything crazy, thank God,” Ortiz said. “But it’s going to take a couple of weeks to get fixed.”
Still the signs are not good as Ortiz seems to be talking more about trying to last through the season rather than play through it. Could that two-year deal the Sox gave him come back to bite them? Only time will tell.
“Opening Day was my goal,” Ortiz said. “You heard me talking about it when I first got here. I was swinging good and I was pushing things the way I was being told. Right now, Opening Day seems like it’s not the case. The case is get me healthy for five or five and a half good months. You know what I’m saying? That’s what we’re looking for now.”
The absence of Ortiz poses an interesting situation for the Sox. It is pretty much a given that he will not be ready for the start of the season, so who will start in his spot in the order? The fan favorite option seems to be to have the defensively challenged Jonny Gomes DH and put Jackie Bradley Jr. in left field to start the season.
JBJ has been hitting .457 this spring along with spectacular defense in the outfield. He could be Boston’s answer to the likes of Bryce Harper or Mike Trout. The problem with brining him up though is that he has only played at the AA level, and having him play in the majors would start his free agent clock, which is something the Sox want to postpone until he is absolutely ready.
The clock is ticking down to Opening Day and ready or not the Sox need a substitute for Ortiz. The options are not too appealing, but they’ll need to make a decision soon.