BOSTON — David Ortiz knows the deal. He’s still producing at a high level, but the Red Sox designated hitter isn’t getting any younger.
Ortiz, who will turn 39 next month, is about to enter his 19th major league season. Most players start considering retirement when the big four-oh creeps closer, but Ortiz is sticking with an old cliché.
“I got to the point where I’ve got to take things day by day. I can’t be thinking about what’s going to happen from now to a year from now,” Ortiz said Thursday afternoon while visiting with pediatric patients at Massachusetts General Hospital. “I’m not going to say that I’m going to retire, but I’m not going to say that I’ve got three, four, five more years. I’m just going take things day by day, see how I feel.”
Ortiz was the Red Sox’s best player in 2014. He hit .263 with 35 home runs and 104 RBIs, passing Ted Williams for the most seasons (eight) with 30+ homers and 100+ RBIs in franchise history. On a team that struggled offensively from start to finish, Ortiz was the one constant, still capable of shouldering the load on any given night.
Father Time isn’t exactly on Ortiz’s side, though. While he has shown no signs of slowing down, the aches and pains that accompany a 162-game grind are enough to make even a nine-time All-Star look in the mirror.
“Like you guys know, it’s not a secret for anyone that age starts catching up with you and things like that. In baseball, that matters a lot,” Ortiz said. “I’m going to turn 39 next month, and this offseason, I’m going to try to figure things out better, see if I can come back next year with less pain and less problems and see how things go during the season next year.”
Ortiz missed the final five games this season with a wrist issue that Red Sox manager John Farrell said was similar to what Papi experienced before missing nearly two months in 2008. General manager Ben Cherington said Monday at Fenway Park that surgery won’t be required, and Ortiz confirmed that notion Thursday, saying he doesn’t expect to undergo a procedure and that the injury likely won’t hinder his offseason plans.
“I think I’ll be fine once I start doing my baseball activities,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz is under contract for 2015. His deal also includes options for 2016 and 2017. It seems like a lock right now that Ortiz, who continues to serve as Boston’s most feared offensive force, will be mashing baseballs in three years. But really, you just never know.
Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. Sometimes, retirement is one of those objects. Sometimes, it isn’t.
Photo via Matt Slocum/AP Photo
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