Baseball Hall of Fame inductee David Ortiz is doubtful about the 2023 Boston Red Sox starting lineup that surrounds slugger Rafael Devers.
Ortiz, who is plenty familiar with the weight carried as a lineup leader, has been on both sides of the coin. During his illustrious time spent in a Red Sox uniform, Ortiz shared the lineup alongside hitters such as Manny Ramirez, Adrián Beltré and Mookie Betts. And while those players help alleviate the responsibilities that come with being a hitter of his caliber, Ortiz is concerned with how that will play out for the Red Sox with Devers next up as their go-to man.
“If I’m facing him, I’m pitching around him,” Ortiz told WEEI recently about Devers. “No doubt about it. You’re talking about one of the most feared hitters in baseball right now. I have been there before, and if you had no one behind me, they won’t pitch to me. You know that. Now you have to find a way who can consistently protect him so he can continue to keep seeing pitches.”
Devers enters the year following a massive commitment from Boston during the offseason. The Red Sox retained their homegrown star on a 10-year contract extension worth a reported $313.5 million.
While Devers has continued to establish himself as arguably the best third baseman in Major League Baseball, 2023 will pose a challenge. The Red Sox will come off their bottom-of-the-barrel finish in 2022 and the offseason resulted in a completely different lineup.
“You don’t want to get to that point where you get frustrated because your production is not quite there,” Ortiz said. “You have to see both sides. You have to see if they are pitching you and you are missing pitches, or if they are not pitching you and you are chasing pitches. So, we’ll see. Let’s see what the season brings to the table.”