David Ortiz knew better than to think the good times would roll forever.
The Boston Red Sox legend reflected on the final season of his Major League Baseball career in an interview MLB.com’s Ian Browne published Sunday and revealed the “confusing” aspect of that unforgettable campaign.
As Ortiz in 2016 was positing perhaps the greatest retirement tour in MLB history, some wondered whether he’d reverse his already-made decision to retire after the season.
“I think everybody wants to do that, but I don’t think anyone retires after putting up a season like that. It felt confusing,” Ortiz told Browne. “When you look at a guy who is about to retire, you don’t think he would retire with numbers like that. But I was done, man. I ran out of gas.”
By the time Ortiz’s tank reached E, he had more doubles (48), home runs (38) and RBIs (127) than any other player in history in a final season. His feats helped the Red Sox win the American League East and reach the playoffs, where they fell to the Cleveland Indians in the AL Division Series.
Ortiz had been nursing an Achilles problem for three-plus years by the time he decided the 2016 season would be his last in the big leagues. That injury factored heavily into his decision to ignore calls to continue his career, even as he was still tearing up MLB pitching.
“The baseball game has been so incredible to me but I can’t disrespect the game just because of money,” Ortiz said. “I could have signed and been like, ‘OK, I’m going to play another year,’ and then what?s next? What happens if I don’t play and the injury doesn’t allow me to get out there. You’re not getting any younger. The reason why I actually decided to retire on top is because I was getting old, man. These other players, they could be my kids. That’s something I was a little concerned about.”
That peace of mind Ortiz had developed about retirement helped him go “all-in,” remain focused and enjoy a send-off season for the ages.