Red Sox: All-Stars doubt David Ortiz’s retirement plans
Several of baseball’s elite gathered for the All-Star festivities this week revealed their thoughts on Red Sox slugger David Ortiz’s impending retirement.
By now most Boston Red Sox fans have begrudgingly accepted the fact that David Ortiz is going to retire at the end of this season, but some of his fellow All-Stars remain skeptical.
Ortiz was selected to his 10th All-Star appearance, joining five of his Red Sox teammates in San Diego this week for the Midsummer Classic. The 40-year old is having a season for the ages, heading into the break hitting .332 with 22 home runs and 72 RBI. He leads the league with a 1.107 OPS and 57 extra-base hits.
Showing no signs of slowing down, it’s hard to fathom how Ortiz could walk away from the game when he’s clearly still capable of performing at an elite level. Which is why some of his fellow All-Stars aren’t ready to believe it.
"“I still don’t 100 percent believe that this is it for him,” former teammate Jon Lester told reporters in San Diego, per CSNNE.com. “But I’ll guess we’ll see come next spring training. I’m just happy for him. He’s been a part of this game for a long time and been the fact of this game for a long time. I’m sure that wears on you as a person and a family guy like he is. I’m sure he’s ready to go home, but like I said, I’ll believe it come next spring training.”"
Lester knows Big Papi pretty well, having played with him for parts of 9 seasons in a Red Sox uniform. His comments suggest that he understands the reasons why Ortiz is ready to call it a career, but like many of us, isn’t quite as ready as he is to see him walk away.
Even some of the game’s brightest young stars can’t believe that Ortiz’s career is almost over.
"“I don’t think Big Papi is going to retire,” former MVP Mike Trout told reporters. “I keep telling him that. With those numbers, I wouldn’t.”"
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Easy for a 24-year old to say. Ortiz has made it clear that his decision to retire has nothing to do with his production. He knows he can still hit, but the preparation he has to go through to get ready for games at his age has become too much. The pain in his aching feet has become too much. It’s not that Ortiz has lost the desire to play the game that he loves, it’s that his body is telling him it’s time to stop.
Then again, everyone has a price, right? If a team writes a big enough check, perhaps Ortiz would consider grinding through one more season. At least that’s what Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado is hoping for. He’d be happy to see Ortiz continue his career – as long as he can play with him instead of against him.
"“Hopefully our owners can throw some dollar signs at him,” joked Machado (he was joking… right?)."
Sorry, Baltimore. Ortiz has already had his fill of sharing the superstar spotlight with a guy named Manny. In the unlikely event that Ortiz has a change of mind and wants to play another year, the chances of that happening anywhere but Boston are about as likely as me making next year’s All-Star team. Machado will need to settle for being teammates with Ortiz for one night in San Diego, then they are back to being division rivals in a closely contested race.
By all accounts, Ortiz appears to be at peace with his decision and is enjoying his retirement tour. He’s not going to pull a Brett Favre by flip-flopping between retirement plans and comeback attempts. What could possibly change his mind?
What if he smells another ring is within his grasp. Going out on top would be the ultimate ending to Ortiz’s epic career. What if the Red Sox make it to the World Series, only to come up short? Could he really walk away after coming that close?
Even Ortiz can’t know the answer to that question unless he’s actually put in that scenario, so we’ll just have to wait and see. Ortiz is almost definitely going to retire after this season, but as Lester said, we won’t know for sure until spring training.