Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz is going into retirement with a bang, but it may be taking a toll on the aging slugger.
Ortiz previously announced the 2016 baseball season will be his last season, but the way he has been tearing it up in the batter’s box has left some Boston fans hopeful he may have a change of heart. That will not be the case, according to Ortiz, as he is feeling the aches and pains of playing and having a hard enough time getting through it.
“Everything hurts,” Ortiz told ESPN. “It even hurts to think. Last time I reached second after a double, I almost called for a timeout so they would get me out of the game. I can barely run because my feet hurt so much. I am in severe pain.”
For Ortiz, the struggles with some pain have been lingering for years and enough has become enough. Ortiz told ESPN he has been battling some foot pain since 2012 and he struggles to get enough rest with the day-to-day grind during a baseball season.
“If it was just about hitting … I can still hit. My mental focus is there, my hand-eye coordination, I work hard to maintain those. But after you hit comes the rest. And therein lies the problem. That’s the only reason.”
Ortiz leads all of baseball in slugging percentage with a .699 percentage. To put that in perspective, the next closest in this category is Baltimore’s Manny Machado, with a .605 slugging percentage. Ortiz has hit 18 home runs while hitting .339. Only three players in baseball have a higher batting average (Daniel Murphy of the Nationals, Jose Altuve of the Astros, and Ortiz’s teammate in Boston, Xander Bogaerts). With the kind of production Ortiz is pumping out, it’s no wonder why the Red Sox are in the thick of the AL East race, sitting just one game behind the Orioles for first place.
Ortiz has also been going through the final farewell tour a handful of baseball legends receive when it is known a season will be their last. Ortiz has been honored everywhere he has been, which is something Big Papi seems to regret.
“It’s very difficult for me. If I had even imagined that it would be so difficult, I wouldn’t have announced anything. There are too many people I have to pay attention to, and on top of that I have to prepare for a game.”
Ortiz still has plenty of passion and emotion for the game, but when the body has enough it often wins out over the mental state of mind. Rest assured, even when Ortiz does step into retirement, we can pretty much be guaranteed he will not be staying out of our baseball conscience.