It has been a few days since the Boston Red Sox announced that David Ortiz will be sitting for 5-7 days with heel/ankle/foot problems. It was discussed early on here, and reading between the lines from things being said at Red Sox camp, 5-7 days seems like a conservative estimate.
So how can the Sox replace Big Papi for however long he may be out? Sure we can speculate if they are looking to pick someone up outside of the team, but let’s take a look at what they currently have on their training camp roster.
On the Red Sox officially published depth chart, they have Ryan Lavarnway and Mauro Gomez listed as the number 2 and 3 DH’s on the team. That’s fine if Ortiz is healthy to spell him for a few games here and there, but unless lightning strikes in a bottle, these two won’t help. Between them they have 3 seasons of MLB experience, and a combined total of 6 home runs and 37 RBI. Ortiz could do that being unable to walk, so can assume that option is out.
One option could be doing more of a true platoon at catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross could split the catching and DH duties. Salty was expected to take the majority of games behind the plate, but the Sox bringing in Ross in the off-season looks like a fantastic move right now. He is a solid, although not scary, hitter and fantastic at managing the pitching staff. Come to think if it, if Ortiz isn’t out for an extended period of time, the Sox could just insert him in the DH role for a week or two without shuffling the lineup too much.
Conventional thinking would lead us to believe that John Farrell would use match-ups on a day to day basis at DH. You cannot just stick someone in to replace David Ortiz. They just do not have anyone that can hit like him, nor anyone that strikes fear into opposing pitchers as he does. Mike Carp and Mike Napoli will in all likelihood see time at DH and first base, perhaps similar to the catching situation.
Whatever the diagnosis on Ortiz, let’s hope it is a setback rather than a big issue. The Red Sox cannot afford to have him out of the lineup for an extended period of time. They need not only his bat, but his experience and leadership as well. Gone are the days of the entire dugout cheering and laughing.