BOSTON — David Ortiz’s baseball career had to end at some point. And unless the Red Sox caught lightning in a bottle, it wouldn’t end with a win.
But that didn’t make Monday night any easier for Big Papi or his teammates.
The book on Big Papi’s 20-year major league career slammed shut at Fenway Park, where the Cleveland Indians dispatched Boston 4-3 to complete their three-game sweep in the American League Division Series.
Ortiz made the most of the melancholy moment, returning to the field for one last curtain call before pouring his heart out in a lengthy postgame press conference. But how did his teammates — all of whom have felt the 40-year-old designated hitter’s enormous personality — react to Monday’s sudden ending, knowing they came up short in Big Papi’s final season?
Their responses ranged from frustration and disappointment to gratitude and awe of all Ortiz has done. In all of their reactions, though, was a feeling of disbelief that Ortiz no longer is a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Here’s what several players had to say about Ortiz after the game:
Xander Bogaerts, shortstop
“A true legend. (He’s) someone that I watched while I was growing up, a lot of ESPN ‘Sunday Night (Baseball)’ games, playoff games, a lot of (New York) Yankees-Red Sox games. That’s mostly what (they had) on TV back at home, so definitely watched him a lot. One of the clutchest hitters in all of baseball. So, it was tough not to make it past the first round for him, but he’s a true legend.”
“Next year, when we come to the field in spring training and we don’t see him, that’s probably when it’s all going to sink in. Because you’re not going to be able to see him around as often in the clubhouse and stuff like that. But he had a great year, as he’s done his whole career for the Red Sox, and without him we definitely wouldn’t have even made the postseason.”
Dustin Pedroia, second baseman
“Obviously, it hasn’t sunk in that David won’t be around. It’s tough.
“… Your mind tells you, ‘Win the game; he’ll be here tomorrow.’ It’s got to end some way, but this is definitely not how we expected it to. It’s going to be tough not having him around.”
Clay Buchholz, pitcher
“It’s crazy. He’s been here since the first day I was here, so to know that he’s not going to be here next year, that’s a step that I think everybody in this clubhouse is going to have to get over. I’ve been a part of teams that have lost in a playoff series and everything, but it didn’t feel as bad as this one did, just for him in general.”
Travis Shaw, third baseman
“It’s not the way you want to end the season. Especially it being David’s last year, it just — it sucks.
“… He’s taught everybody a lot in here. He’s full of knowledge, and he’s basically gone through everything — being released to being on top of the world. He’s said a lot to me, and I know everything that he’s said to me, I’m going to take to heart.”
Chris Young, outfielder
“He’s an amazing leader. He leads by example. He leads with his words, as well, as everybody knows. He sets a great example for everybody. He’s been around the block enough to where he can help guys out. He can help young guys out, because he’s pretty much seen and done it all. And I think guys enjoy feeding that, getting information from him and taking what they could from him while he was here. I think we all benefited from having him in the clubhouse.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images