Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz says he’ll be ready to go by the time his team faces the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on opening day, April 1st. As the entire Red Sox fan base breathes a collective sigh of relief, Ortiz isn’t so quick to celebrate, admitting that he still is not at 100 percent.
On July 16th last year, just 90 games into the season, Ortiz came up lame rounding first base and was later diagnosed with a severe Achilles strain. At that point the team was two games over .500. Ortiz missed all but one game the rest of the year, and the Red Sox never came close to replacing his bat. He ended his season with a slash line of .318/.415/.611 and a fantastic OPS of 1.026. E
ven playing just slightly more than half a season, his 23 home runs ranked second (Jarrod Saltalamacchia, 25) on a team that had virtually no offense in the second half. The Red Sox were 26 games under .500 without Ortiz, who ranks fifth on the Red Sox all-time home run list with 343.
In a recent interview, Ortiz reported that he is no longer experiencing pain with agility drills and will be ready to participate at some level as soon as spring training begins. The 37-year old slugger is set to begin his 11th season in Boston after signing a two-year, $26 million deal which will likely allow him to retire as a member of the Red Sox.
(JM Catellier is the author of the book Fixing Baseball, a guide to restructuring the Hall of Fame. Follow him on Twitter: @FixingBaseball and Facebook, and check out his site: www.fixingbaseball.com)