Red Sox have options if David Ortiz is forced to miss Opening Day
It’s been an up-and-down spring for David Ortiz as he comes back from an Achilles injury suffered last July. Some days are good, while others frustrating as he still tries to run consistently without any discomfort. The past two days have fallen under the frustrating category for the Sox slugger.
Ortiz ran Thursday, but after said the soreness hasn’t gone away as he had planned.
“Like I am right now? I don’t think I can play like that,” Ortiz told reporters. “If it gets better and it doesn’t bother me that much, yes, I’ll probably be able to deal with it.
“I have to get out of my mind the rushing (trying to be ready for Opening Day) thing, because that just gets me worse. I have to stick with the plan and try not get it worse.”
The 37-year-old did not attempt any running Friday, but will Saturday. While manager John Farrell says he hasn’t thought of a Plan B if Ortiz is not ready for Opening Day, he did acknowledge he and the organization may need to start.
“He’s critically important to our lineup. He’s aware of that. I think that’s what kind of adds to his frustration, not being able to get on the field and participate in spring training and get ready for the regular season,” Farrell said to reporters. “But because we haven’t come to that date where Plan B is a legitimate one. I know those discussions will take place [but] we’re still hopeful and taking the approach he will be ready. But we’ve got to be aware that may need adjustment.”
With the possibility of the team starting the year without Ortiz at designated hitter, the Red Sox could use this as a way to give some of their older players a day off from the playing the field, which could be beneficial in the dreary month of April.
Boston has three outfielders for the right and left field positions. Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes are the likely starters in right and left field respectively, but the team has a quality utility outfielder in Daniel Nava. If Ortiz does in fact open the year unavailable, a likely option is to have Victorino or Gomes DH a game or two, which would keep their bat in the lineup as well as giving Nava a chance to play.
The same thing can be done in the infield. If first baseman Mike Napoli needs a day off from the field he could be the DH with either Mike Carp or Lyle Overbay, depending on who makes the team, filling in at first base. On the other side of the diamond, if Will Middlebrooks or Stephen Drew were in need of a day off from the field, Pedro Ciriaco would be able to step in and play, as well as keeping Middlebrooks’ and Drew’s bats in the lineup.
While it wouldn’t be the ideal situation with Ortiz missing the start of the year, his long-term health is more important to the club and the team does have serviceable utility players to step in and play allowing position players a day off, but not taking their bats out of the order.
As long as Ortiz doesn’t miss a significant amount of the season the Red Sox should be able to survive.
Follow Metro Boston Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84.