Friday, December 6, 2013
BOSTON — The Red Sox need David Ortiz back in the lineup.
His injury has ironically been Boston's Achilles heel, as scoring is down more than a half-run per game since the Sox lost their lone All-Star to injury.
Ortiz has been on the disabled list with a strained right Achilles since July 18th.
The bigger concern is that his heel has been bothering him for much longer than that. In fact, Ortiz hasn't been 100 percent in quite some time.
And he won't be for awhile. He knows he'll be dealing with heel pain going forward.
"I'm not going to be 100 percent when I come back to play, but when we start doing the power drills and I start feeling better, I think I'll be ready to go," he said.
Ortiz was hoping he'd be back on the field when he was first eligible to return to the team, but suffered a setback in New York.
He was scheduled to go through agility drills while in the Bronx but was unable to.
He finally went through those drills late last week in Boston. He has been able to ramp up his activity steadily, but wakes up each morning wondering how his heel will feel the morning after.
Matt Stairs, who has a home in Bangor, knows what that's like. In 2000, he dealt with the injury as a member of the Oakland A's. Now, as a baseball analyst on NESN, he understands the frustration Ortiz is feeling.
"It's that first step," said Stairs. "It can be very stiff. With Achilles, they'd have us doing two, three minutes of range of motion just to get ready to run on it."
Stairs has spoken with Ortiz, and Big Papi said he appreciated hearing from someone who had been through this before.
"It's an up and down thing," said Stairs. "You can be pain-free, and you'll be putting your shoe on wrong and you feel like you're starting all over again. You don't make a full recovery from Achilles.
"Until you tear it and get it repaired you'll be dealing with it. It's an injury that stays quite awhile."
Said Ortiz: "As I work out and do different things, the following day I feel a little sore. It's part of the process, from what they say. When I came in, I felt really good. Then we took the treatment to another level and today I came in a little sore."
Stairs ultimately had surgery that off-season. He says Ortiz can continue playing without surgery, but will have to manage the injury closely moving forward.
"This is something, it's not a game," said Ortiz. "It's an injury that can put you out for a long time if you don't take care of it."
The Red Sox have placed 23 different players on the DL this season, the most by any major league team in more than 40 years.
None of those injuries has taken a bigger toll on the team than the loss of Ortiz.
There's only one Big Papi. And the Red Sox desperately need him back now.
Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.