August 24, 2012; Boston, MA USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) prior to a game against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Papi's Contract Rewards Staying In The Lineup. Will He Be Able to Fulfill?

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“I’m not completely recovered, but I’m going to be ready to go for Opening Day,” David Ortiz reportedly told WEEI.com on Wednesday. At this point I feel marginally inspired by these words. Papi’s contract rewards staying in the lineup but will he be up to the task?

While it’s true that Ortiz has another two months before opening day to get it together it’s also true that Boston’s 37-year old slugger has been cruising JetBlue Park in a golf cart and Father Time’s clock is tick, tick, ticking. This is the same conversation that’s been happening for the past couple of springs and Ortiz has proven the critics – me among them – wrong each time. This is, however, 2013. This is another year older. Ortiz’ injury has had six months to heal. The rebound is not happening fast enough.

From a contractual perspective both the Red Sox and Ortiz are in solid positions. There are incentives in Papi’s contract that address both party’s best interests.

His $26 million two-year contract, good through 2014, could be worth an estimated $30 million if he stays healthy. The contract includes specific language regarding his Achilles tendon injury, which limited him to just 90 games last season. Ortiz will receive an $11 million base salary in 2013, but his salary will be bumped to $15 million if he misses 20 or fewer days on the disabled list in 2013 due to the injury.

The pieces are in place. Ortiz and the Red Sox are in this together and they’re not rushing things. But make no mistake. There’s a lot on the line. If this is the year that Ortiz doesn’t rebound and the wheels come off his cart for good, the Red Sox, contractual smarts notwithstanding, will be hurting for a big time DH if the big man is no longer the terror of Yawkey Way.

 What a drag it is getting old.
- Mother’s Little Helper, Rolling Stones 

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