BOSTON — First things first: David Ortiz’s career ended too soon.
After producing one of the greatest regular seasons by a player his age in baseball history, the Boston Red Sox slugger played in just three more postseason games, the last of which was a 4-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians in Game 3 of the American League Division Series.
It was a disappointing final chapter in an otherwise fairytale career for the 40-year-old Dominican Republic native. So, as one might expect, it was only a matter of minutes before the second-guessing began.
Frank Thomas isn’t the only one to question Ortiz’s retirement decision. How could you not after watching the guy hit .315 with 38 home runs and 127 RBIs, numbers he hasn’t produced in nearly a decade?
But in his final postgame press conference Monday, Ortiz made one thing clear: He’s ready to walk away.
“Mentally, I think I’m prepared — in my psyche, in my mind — to be over with the game,” Ortiz said. “I talk to a lot of guys that already have retired and have been done with their career, and they say that the first year is the one that when you see everybody getting prepared to go to spring training and you start watching games and stuff like that– that’s when it hits you.
“But at some point you start getting used to it, when you see the team (has) to travel. So, that’s something that I’m not going to miss about playing baseball.”
Despite his gaudy 2016 stats, Ortiz needed constant treatment on his aching feet just to make it through the season. Beyond the physical aspect, though, Big Papi sounds like a man content with where’s he at in life.
“I can’t ask God for no more than what he gave me,” Ortiz said. “I’m a guy that came out of the Dominican one day when I was just 17 years old, and all I want to do was have fun at what I do. … So, that one kid that was expecting just to have fun, here (he) is, 23 years later, having a career and walking home. There were not too many of us get to get it done.
“… I’m happy and proud of going home the way I am right now.”
The game has meant so much to Ortiz — and vice versa — for him to step away completely, and a future role as a coach, advisor or analyst seems all but guaranteed for the gregarious slugger. But one thing is certain: He’s not interested in pulling a Brett Favre or Michael Jordan.
“I want to come around and have fun next year,” Ortiz said, pausing briefly before adding with a grin, “Looking at it from the other side.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images