In his prime, David Ortiz was known to savor his trips around the bases. Over a 20-year major league career, Big Papi hit 541 homers. Many of them, especially the ones late in his career, were followed by glacially slow home run trots.

So it should come as no surprise that Ortiz savored every moment of his victory lap around Boston this weekend. Summer officially began this past week, but the Summer of Love for Ortiz has been under way for a while.

This weekend, it reached its peak. Ortiz had a Boston street named after him (he already had a bridge), a Logan Airport gate named in his honor, and had his number retired by the Red Sox.

The sight of the red 34 up on the right-field facade should finally quiet down any call for the return of Ortiz to the Sox lineup. He has retired, his number has been retired, and it seems clear that this team is going to have to find its way without Big Papi stunning the world with a return.

Friday night, in the wake of the celebration, the Red Sox hit like a lineup loaded with No. 34s. The 9-4 win was a perfect way to open the homestand and to add to the team’s dominance at Fenway. That changed over the next two games, when Boston was limited to five runs and the Angels took the series.

Once again, we were left wondering if someone is going to be able to step up and lead this offense. The Red Sox began the week with the fewest home runs in the American League and the third-lowest slugging percentage. The team can hit – the .265 team batting average is third-best in the AL – but with the All-Star break looming, the Red Sox clearly cannot hit for power consistently.

And baseball in 2017 is a game of power.

Major league hitters are on pace to hit more than 6,000 home runs this season. That’s never been done before. The record is 5,693 in 2000, at the height of the Steroid Era.

There are a lot of theories why balls are suddenly leaving the yard at a record pace. It’s an all-or-nothing game now where hitters don’t mind striking out. There’s no such thing as shortening your swing with two strikes and trying to make contact to get a hit. Today, the game is played with a goal of “absolute outcomes” – homers, strikeouts, and walks. There is no embarrassment in striking out 200 times.

With all that in mind, it’s hard to fathom why the Red Sox aren’t hitting home runs. On Friday, we were reminded of the biggest reason of all. Ortiz led the Red Sox in home runs (and RBI) each of the past four years. He led the team in homers eight of the last 12 years. He was a presence in the midst of a lineup that could rattle the game’s best pitchers.

Clearly, that presence hasn’t been replaced.

The Sox believed they could improve this season by fielding one of the best pitching staffs in the game. Sure enough, the Sox are one of just four American League teams with a sub-4.00 ERA. It is the main reason why the team began the week tied for first place.

Over the winter, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski passed on free-agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion. He’s belted 17 homers with Cleveland – six more than anyone on the Red Sox roster. He’d be a powerful presence as a cleanup hitter.

When the Red Sox were in Kansas City last week, there was a lot of talk about Dombrowski trading for Mike Moustakas. He has 19 homers and would fix the offensive black hole at third base. Then the Sox lost 2 of 3 to the Royals, who are suddenly back in the AL Central race and talking about keeping the roster intact through the season. Moustakas is a free agent at the end of the season, but the Sox would probably have to overpay in prospects now that the Royals are believing in themselves.

Meanwhile, the Red Sox continue life without Ortiz. Any hopes that he would come out of retirement and start smashing homers were dashed when his number joined the list to never be worn again. Big Papi isn’t walking through that clubhouse door anytime soon. It’s a new era, one where the Sox will have to win games without majestic home runs off the bat of the greatest DH to ever play the game.

Tom Caron is a studio host for the Red Sox broadcast on NESN. His column appears in the Portland Press Herald on Tuesdays.