Retiring Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz has been known for his monster home run shots throughout his career. It has made Big Papi a staple of the annual MLB Home Run Derby on the eve of the All-Star Game in July.
As Ortiz takes one last lap around the MLB, one would think a curtain call in the Home Run Derby would be on the offing.
Instead, Ortiz has announced that he will not participate in the derby this year, much to the pleasure of his employers.
“If it turns out he doesn’t participate in the Home Run Derby, I think that’s probably music to all of our ears,” manager John Farrell said Wednesday after Ortiz told WEEI radio that he doesn’t intend to take part in the contest. “But at the same time, he’s earned the right to enjoy and experience that opportunity in San Diego as much as anyone.”
Ortiz’s announcement on Wednesday morning shouldn’t come as a shock, considering he hasn’t participated in the event since winning it in 2010. However, he’s having a torrid season for Boston, and one would probably think a final farewell in the Derby for the man who has hit the second-most home runs in the event’s history would be in the offing.
He came into the day leading MLB with an 1.108 OPS and the Red Sox with 18 home runs, totals that the powers that be in MLB’s executive offices would love to see on display two Mondays from now at Petco Park. Yet, the third leading active home run hitter won’t get one last hurrah in front of the fans at the All-Star Game’s derby.
Instead, it is likely he will play in the actual All-Star Game as the American League’s starting DH, and attempt to avoid a post-Derby funk that has claimed the second halves of many players over the years.
Rather than risk that, Ortiz appears set on being a team player and focusing on getting the Red Sox back to the playoffs. He also will likely get a chance to rest his oft-injured ankles and heels, having played 66 of 78 games so far for Boston at the age of 40.
Not having to take home run cuts in advance of the All-Star Game is likely just the kind of rest the aging and ailing Ortiz needs. It’s also very likely what the Red Sox, who started the day five games out in the American League East, need as well.