September 20, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Lavarnway (60) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Big Papi Says He's Ready But What If He's Not?


So far this spring, Camp Farrell has been a total love-in down in Fort Myers.  But there’s one piece of business many Red Sox fans, including me, may have forgotten about.

David Ortiz is still not fully recovered from the Achilles tendon tear that he suffered last July.  Rehabbing an Achilles injury is tough for any professional athlete, regardless of age.  And Big Papi is 37 and not getting any younger, despite how well he performed in 2012 before the injury.

July 13, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (34) at bat against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Boston Red Sox defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In recent days there’s been a lot of talk that Ortiz will be fully recovered from the injury by opening day, April 1, at Yankee Stadium.  He better be ready because without him, the Red Sox will have the same gaping hole they had in the middle of that lineup last season.  We all know how that turned out for the team.

So what happens if Ortiz is not ready to play in the opener and has setbacks in spring training?  I’m sure the Red Sox have a plan but don’t dare publicize it unless they absolutely must.

We, as fans, are always looking ahead and, after the injury filled debacle of 2012, it would be nice if there was an immediate solution if Ortiz’ situation becomes a problem.

Actually, there is a solution if Ortiz misses significant time and his name is Ryan Lavarnway.  Yes, that Ryan Lavarnway.  The forgotten man in the Red Sox prospect chain.

With all the gushing over Jackie Bradley, Jr., Xander Bogaerts and others, Lavarnway is the forgotten man.  Blocked from any catching duties by the combo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross, Lavarnway is a man without a position, yet the Red Sox say they are still high on him.

If so, it’s a no-brainer that he should take over as the full time DH if Ortiz is not ready.  What better way to find out about this kid than to watch him hit, which the Sox say is his greatest asset, on a full-time basis?

If something happens to Ortiz the solution is so easy that it’s too good to be true.  Now, I know there will be Negative Nellies who will say “you can’t replace an all-time player like Papi with a third string catcher.”

But why not and what other options are there? Besides, I think Lavarnway’s production would be closer to what he did at the end of 2011 when he got some regular starts, than his bad 2012 when he really had no consistent playing time.

As for other options is 35-year old Lyle Overbay is the answer?  Mauro Gomez?  Maybe Jonny Gomes could be but he can’t hit righties.

It’s not like the Sox have a ton of flexible options on their roster.  When you combine that with the fact that the team wants to get Lavarnway playing time in the majors because he has nothing left to prove in Triple A, this is the move to be made if it is necessary.

I hope Ortiz misses no time because if he does it’s going to be a rough go for the Sox.  But if he has setbacks I’d much rather see a young player building his stock than some old retread just holding a place in the lineup.

For more on this story, check out the link to my web show right here: http://youtu.be/fTmVzwSv53s

 

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