He’s hit 35 home runs in a season for the sixth time in his major league career. He’s on the verge of driving in 100 runs for the ninth time in his career. And this November, David Ortiz will be 40.
The Boston Red Sox’s designated hitter already guaranteed his 2016 contract, so he’ll be back next season. His 2015 numbers are some of his best since his prime, and he’s on pace for his most home runs since 2006 (when he set a Boston Red Sox single-season record with 54) and RBIs since 2007.
His .915 OPS is the sixth-highest ever for a player age 39 or older. His production certainly doesn’t suggest slowing down.
So, there’s no way the man who hates to talk about retirement would let that word creep into his mind. Right?
“At some point it’s going to happen. When? I don’t know. But that’s everybody in general,” Ortiz told WEEI’s Rob Bradford. “As you get older, your body breaks down easier than when you were younger. I’m fortunate because I’m almost 40 and I’m doing things normally. You get to this stage, you have to go day by day. You can’t promise people anything three years from now.
“I’m old enough to understand things. But during the struggles, it takes a lot out of you. Life continues. Mentally, I love this game, so being responsible is a good thing, but it’s a bad thing, too. I would tell this to people and they would be like, ‘What?’ They have no idea. When I struggle, I can’t sleep. Everything is not enjoyable because of that. When I say that to people they say, ‘You have a wonderful career. You’ve been playing this game forever.’ Yeah, but I play the game day by day. I don’t play the game based on what I did already. I play the game based on what I want to do.”
It’s not a secret that Ortiz has needed days off down the stretch to deal with general soreness, especially after playing first base. But whether it’s because of his body or not, if he struggles he’ll be mentally torn. When it comes time, it seems that’s what will push him away.
“Those offseason months make you think a lot of different things,” Ortiz said. “They dictate the future. How you feel. What you want to do. How much time you have to do things. You think about (retirement). But once things start changing, you start feeling better.”
Let’s take a look at some other Red Sox notes.
— Mookie Betts entered Sunday with a 19-game hit streak against the Toronto Blue Jays, third-longest against the Jays in club history. That ended in Boston’s 4-3 win, as Betts went hitless.
— Rich Hill wrote his name in the Red Sox record books yet again.
Hill went another strong seven innings Sunday, striking out 10 batters for the second consecutive start. Hill struck out 10 batters on Sept. 13, his first career start with the Red Sox and his first major league start since 2009.
Those impressive numbers earned him a bit more recognition.
— Torey Lovullo shed some light on the team’s rotation going forward.
The Red Sox’s interim manager previously had not named any starters for the impending series with the Tampa Bay Rays, but announced Sunday that rookies Eduardo Rodriguez and Henry Owens would start Monday and Tuesday, respectively at Fenway Park.
Rick Porcello and Wade Miley will take the ball in the final two games of the series. But the team still wants to work with a makeshift six-man rotation, and Lovullo said he hoped to have two “bullpen” games at some point this season, in which relievers Craig Breslow or Jonathan Aro could start, with the other coming in after three innings to replace the “starter.”
The Red Sox are in a tricky situation, as both Rodriguez and Owens already have set career highs for innings pitched in a professional season. Rodriguez is sitting on 158 innings pitched between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket in 2015, while Owens is a bit ahead at 166. Rodriguez’s career high was 145 innings in 2013, while Owens’ was 159 in 2014.
Lovullo won’t utilize a “bullpen” game against the New York Yankees, citing a respect for the ongoing pennant race in the American League. He tentatively suggested the games could occur against the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.
Thumbnail photo via John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports Images
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