Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 3/8/13
Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout turned last year’s American League MVP voting into a two-horse race, but former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine thinks someone else was in the discussion before an injury derailed his season. Valentine spoke glowingly of David Ortiz in an interview on Boston’s NBC Sports Radio on Thursday, making it clear that he thinks Ortiz is as good as they come. “Well, you know what, [when Ortiz] played last year, he was the MVP of the league, I thought,” Valentine said, according to CSNNE.com.  “He was as good as there is . . . “ Ortiz finished last season with a .318 average, .415 on-base percentage, 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games. The slugger only played one game after suffering an Achilles injury on July 16, but he was undoubtedly an important player up until that point, even if the Red Sox weren’t exactly in prime position to make a playoff run. Ortiz is still battling back from that Achilles injury, but Valentine isn’t too concerned, despite Opening Day being less than a month away. “I think he’ll be healthy,” Valentine said. “I think he’s smart and will save all of his bullets, or as many of his bullets as he can, until the season begins.” Ortiz’s quest to return to game action has been well-documented, and the Red Sox are bringing him along slowly. Ortiz is still unable to participate in game action, and he said he felt soreness after doing some light running on Thursday. Obviously, Ortiz means a lot to the Red Sox’ offense, which is a much more potent unit with him in the lineup. That, according to Valentine, is why the Sox need to get him back and healthy for the 2013 season. “[You] have to have a bopper [from the left side of the plate] in the lineup, and it looks like he’s going to be that guy for the Red Sox,” said Valentine, later adding: “When he’s in the lineup, he’s a difference-maker.” Ortiz, who turned 37, signed a two-year deal with the Red Sox during the offseason. Have a question for Ricky Doyle? Send it to him via Twitter at @TheRickyDoyle or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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