Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz is in the Opening Day lineup after sitting out the team’s final two exhibition games due to stiffness in his right calf.
The move to sit Ortiz was more precautionary and a good opportunity to provide the long-time veteran with some extra rest. The Red Sox will have just three days off during the month of April.
The 38-year old slugger is no stranger to lower leg issues and even the slightest hint of a problem is enough to have Red Sox fans fearing for the worst.
In 2012, Ortiz injured his right Achilles tendon in mid-July and missed the remainder of the season. Up until that point, Ortiz was having an All-Star caliber year batting .318 with 23 home runs, and 60 RBI in 324 at-bats over 90 games.
In 2013, Ortiz missed all of Spring Training and made his season debut on April 20th following his now famous pre-game “This is our [expletive] city” speech. Ortiz went on to hit .309 with 30 home runs and 103 RBI during the regular-season and was vintage David Ortiz leading the Red Sox to their third World Series championship of the last ten years.
Over the course of Spring Training, Ortiz batted .054 with one home run, two RBI and 13 strikeouts over 37 at-bats.
Terrible spring numbers, while sometimes alarming, are not a reliable tool in forecasting the outlook of a veteran major leaguer. Over the last eight spring training’s, Ortiz batted above .250 just once batting .333, over 24 at-bats, in the spring of 2006.
David Ortiz will have his fair share of health scares throughout the remainder of his big league career. Few players are able to remain as productive as he has been at such an advanced age. Every missed at-bat, every day off and every jog down the first base line will be dissected and discussed a million times over. Something every player on the wrong side of 35 can expect every day they continue to put on a uniform.
David Ortiz is the team’s longest-tenured member and a vital part of the team’s plans for a successful 2014 season. Injuries will always be part of the game and the Red Sox cannot afford to lose David Ortiz for any extended length of time.
The Red Sox feature one of the deeper rosters in Major League baseball, but nobody is capable of replacing David Ortiz.