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Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz will be shut down 5-7 days after an MRI on both heels revealed inflammation in the bony area of his right heel, manager John Farrell said Sunday afternoon.
Farrell suggested it is unlikely Ortiz will be ready for the start of the season.
The Red Sox had sent Ortiz to be examined on Saturday after Ortiz complained of soreness in both heels, particularly the right one, which he hurt last July. Ortiz played only one game the rest of the season after the injury to his right Achilles tendon. Farrell said Ortiz's current discomfort is not the same injury but a byproduct of him ramping up his activity level, which was not unexpected.
"We're going to shut him down from any type of baseball activity for right now," Farrell said. "He's dealing with an issue we have to give time to clear up."
ESPNBoston | David Ortiz shut down 5-7 days
This is less serious than I was expecting. Yesterday reporters asked Ortiz about the MRI results, and he deferred to Farrell, who said they would comment on it a day later. Everyone freaked out, and then the Red Sox probably caught wind of the panic (they must follow me on Twitter) and gave us a prognosis: five to seven days of inactivity.
While I just said it sounds less serious, it's still not good, of course. It's not good that both heels are causing problems. It's not good that the injury has lingered so long. It's not good that, in all likelihood, Ortiz will begin the season on the disabled list.
And it's not good that this team has no way of replacing him. As Peter Gammons tweeted, last year the team was 46-44 with Ortiz, and 23-49 without. And after his injury, they OBP'd .296. Now, of course those numbers are loaded with context -- the Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez shortly after Ortiz's injury and were trotting out a team not much better than the Paw Sox for the remainder of the season.
How much better is the current lineup than the one we saw in September? I would argue considerably, but still without a truly feared hitter. Getting through a Shane Victorino-Jonny Gomes-Will Middlebrooks-Mike Napoli heart of the order isn't the scariest thing in the world for opposing pitchers. I don't think this team will be as putrid as September's Red Sox were, but those of us who are holding out hope that they could be somewhat competitive in the AL playoff picture may find them looking at a significant hole to climb out of if Ortiz misses much of April.
On page 2, Cal Ripken weighs in on Xander Bogarts' future as a shortstop.
“I don’t think, in the end, it’s about the body,” Ripken said. “It’s about the end result. If you’re playing your position and you’re making all the plays, that’s the evaluation. It’s not how you look making them. Many of the small guys that have shorter legs and better quickness could appear to be covering more ground and making those plays, but, in the end, if you position yourself correctly and you make those plays in a different style, if you make the plays, that’s what matters.”
Ripken eventually shifted to third base, but not until the end of his career.
“If someone is moving (positions), you have to look at the whole picture,” he said. “You’re not evaluating subjectively how a guy moves or how he makes a play. Is he covering the ground? Is he making the double plays? Is he making all the plays a shortstop has to make? That’s how I would judge it.
Herald | Cal Ripken sizes up Xander Bogaerts
Ripken is of course qualified to weigh in on Xander's situation, since he was also a large shortstop and managed to play there for much of his career. His comments also echo one of the challenges faced by the sabermetric community as they continue to overhaul the way defense is evaluated: Just because a guy is flashy, it doesn't mean he's good. The most common example I see from the stat guys is Derek Jeter, who looks quite stylish at short, while most serious evaluations of him (even four or five years ago, while still reasonably close to his prime) suggested he had limited range and made easy plays look hard.
We won't know Bogaerts' future until we see him more, of course, but it is certainly encouraging to hear more and more suggestions that he could stick at short, even if it's just for a few years at the beginning of his career. That bat at short is even more tantalizing than it would be at third.
ESPNBoston | Takeaways: Sox 6, Rays 2; Lackey solid | Red Sox 6, Rays 2 | CSNNE | Lackey coming along after solid outing vs. Rays | Bard becoming more comfortable on mound again | Notes: Morales gets day off with lower back pain | Red Sox shut Ortiz down for 5-7 days | Globe | Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard takes another positive step | How could the Red Sox replace David Ortiz? | Red Sox to shut down David Ortiz for 5-7 days | Herald | David Ortiz shut down for 5-7 days | Unhealed heel big deal | Location good sign for John Lackey | Will Middlebrooks strides into sophomore season | Image: EMUU.net