Overwhelmed by the added attention, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz is starting to regret his decision to announce his retirement before the season.
David Ortiz is beginning to wish that he never announced to the world that he would be retiring from Major League Baseball at the conclusion of the 2016 season.
No, the Boston Red Sox designated hitter isn’t having second thoughts about ending his storied career. Despite leading the majors with a 1.118 OPS and finding his name near the top of most offensive categories, Ortiz remains content with riding off into the sunset after this season.
He’s just now realizing it would be a lot easier if we weren’t all aware of those intentions.
The extra attention Ortiz is receiving during his farewell tour has become overwhelming. The three-time World Series champion is familiar with the spotlight, but this is on another level. Between the media constantly questioning his decision, the ceremonies in his honor and everyone in baseball looking to get one last opportunity to interact with one of the biggest stars in the game, it’s a lot to deal with. As humbling as the experience is, it’s also exhausting.
"“I’m too busy. I have too many things to do. I barely have time to do anything,” Ortiz told ESPN Deportes on Sunday. “It’s very difficult for me. If I had even imagined that it would be so difficult, I wouldn’t have announced anything. There are too many people I have to pay attention to, and on top of that I have to prepare for the game.”"
The additional distractions clearly don’t seem to be effecting his performance at the plate, but it may be impinging on the time that he needs to prepare for games. At 40 years old, that preparation is much more involved than it is for most players, particularly when it comes to his ailing feet that have bothered him for years.
"“Everything hurts,” said Ortiz. “It even hurts to think. Last time I reached second after a double, I almost called time out so they would get me out of the game. I can barely run because my feet hurt so much. I am in severe pain.”"
This is the real reason that Ortiz is ready to walk away from the game. Clearly he’s still capable of performing at an elite level. The problem is what he has to endure to continue playing at this level. His body is breaking down from two decades in the big leagues, requiring more maintenance than his younger peers.
As much as Ortiz would like to keep playing, his body is telling him it’s time to stop. He could attempt to ignore it, block out the pain and grind through another season or two. Then again, he also would like to be able to still walk when he gets older.
"“Since 2012 I’ve been struggling with my feet,” explained Ortiz. “I arrive every day at noon for a 7 p.m. game. If it was just about hitting… I can still hit. My mental focus is there, my hand-eye coordination, I work hard to maintain those. But after you hit comes the rest. And therein lies the problem. That’s the only reason.”"
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What Ortiz has been able to accomplish at this stage of his career is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his craft, but the process can be exhausting. The amount of effort that he puts in on the field pales in comparison to what he has to do off the field to get ready for the game.
Now add all these other off-field responsibilities that come with the territory of being a superstar on the verge of retirement on top of his regular pre-game preparation and you can see why he’s feeling overwhelmed.
The admiration being showered upon Ortiz during his farewell tour is well deserved and appreciated, but it’s not making his life any less hectic. The strain has yet to catch up to him in a way that has effected his performance, but if he’s feeling a bit drained by the added attention in June, imagine how suffocating it will be if the Red Sox make it to October.
If he could do it all over again, perhaps he would have kept his decision to himself. Aside from his family and a few trusted confidants, none of us would know he was going to retire. When he steps to the podium to accept the MVP award for his fourth World Series title, that’s when he should have made the announcement, dropped the mic and strolled off the field for the last time.
Well, it’s a bit late for that. He can’t take it back without inviting more media scrutiny and he can’t push everyone away. That’s just not who Big Papi is. Instead, he’ll need to continue to juggle the off-field distractions with his pre-game routine. It’s a monumental task, but one that Ortiz has managed successfully so far.
Let’s hope he can keep it going for a few more months.