By Brodie Barrick — @BarrickMLB
Much to the dismay of everyone within Red Sox Nation, it is pretty clear now that David Ortiz will NOT be returning from retirement this year. His Instagram feed is littered with videos of him enjoying vacations on the beach or taking in his son’s basketball game while the Red Sox are down in Fort Myers preparing for the 2017 season. So now that Papi is gone, for real, it’s time to move on.
Don’t get me wrong, the idea of moving on from David Ortiz is as hard for me as it is the next person. David Ortiz is the sole reason I became a Red Sox fan and I cannot remember a time where I was cheering for the Red Sox without #34 in the lineup. So I’m not saying it will be easy to turn the page on Big Papi. I’m saying it’s essential.
To turn the page, we must first look ahead to the 2017 season and the state that the core of the Red Sox has been left in without David. First off, and undoubtedly the new “leader” of the clubhouse is Dustin Pedroia. Entering his 11th full season with the Red Sox, Pedey leaves it all on the field every time he’s out there. Pedroia is your model leader for any team and he will easily take over.
What makes this even easier than it should be is the depth in the core of young players on the Red Sox roster. Guys like Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts, and Jackie Bradley Jr. give the Sox a veteran presence on the field even know they are still so young. These guys are the present and the future of this franchise and they will have to be ready to take on leadership roles when called upon. To make their jobs a little bit easier, the roster also has some stability with other veteran’s such as Hanley Ramirez, David Price, Mitch Moreland, and even Pablo Sandoval. After all, the guy is a 3 time World Series Champion and a World Series MVP in 2012. He does know what it takes to win and what it will take to get this Red Sox team to a championship. The big question is does he still have what it takes to get the job done?
Although it will be difficult to match the production hole that David Ortiz leaves in the Red Sox lineup, the hole he leaves off the field may be an even bigger one to fill. And much like the DH spot in the Red Sox lineup may be filled by committee at times this year, the leadership role he leaves behind may have to be filled in the same way.