On Sunday Boston.com reports that the Boston Red Sox have announced that they will shut down David Ortiz for at least 5-7 days in hopes of giving him a chance to be ready when the team takes the field on April 1 against the rival New York Yankees.
The Sox designated hitter has been the heart of the team for the past several years. He is known as Big Papi to teammates, coaches and fans because of his big smile, his big heart and most importantly, his big bat. But for the past couple of seasons, the 37-year old Ortiz has been hampered with injuries. The latest, which consists of inflammation in both of his heels, may sideline the Sox slugger up until and possibly through opening day.
After an MRI on Saturday, team doctors were able to get a clearer picture of the injury. Boston manager John Farrell had a decision to make, and he decided to rest Ortiz who originally suffered an Achilles tendon tear in a game on July 16.
"It does reveal some inflammation in the bony area of the heel. He's dealing with that. That's where his discomfort is being felt. As a result, we're going to shut him down for a few days here to let that quiet down completely before we initiate any kind of baseball activities after that."
So who will be able to fill in for Ortiz if he is not able to make it back for Opening day or worse case scenario for Farrell and the Sox, who will replace Ortiz in the batting or if Ortiz needs more time to heal?
There are a few possibilities which include keeping veteran Kyle Overbay at first base and using the recently signed slugger Mike Napoli at DH. There are also players like Jim Thome and Bobby Abreu out there who can at least provide some power. The Sox have enough versatile players to do some maneuvering and be able to platoon players at the DH position.
But for now, Farrell believes shutting Ortiz down should be enough to get him ready.
"I think any time we can give some assurance that there's no re-injury, there's no further damage of any kind, year, that's got to give some peace of mind. Yet the frustration exists because of not being on the field."
It is clear that a healthy Ortiz is what the 2013 Red Sox need to help them be a viable contender in the AL East.