In just a few short weeks, the Red Sox will open spring training and David Ortiz will not be there. Big Papi retired following last season and the BoSox have moved on, opting to sign Mitch Moreland as his replacement.
As is often the case in these situations, there has been some recent speculation Ortiz could un-retire and return to the Red Sox in 2017. A recent tweet sent fans into a frenzy, that's for sure. Alas, Big Papi is not planning to make a comeback. He told Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes he's done:
"My playing time has already expired," Ortiz told to ESPN Deportes. The 41-year-old slugger said that for the first time in more than two decades, he is not physically preparing to play baseball this offseason.
"Baseball is not something that you wake up today and you say, 'I'll play tomorrow,'" Ortiz said "Baseball is something that carries a lot of sacrifice, a lot of preparation, and there is a reason why we train the entire year to play it, practice every day, especially during the season, because it is a sport of consistency."
There's little doubt Ortiz, who turned 41 in November, can still play. He hit a whopping .315/.401/.620 (162 OPS+) with 48 doubles, 38 home runs, and 127 RBI in 2016. Ortiz led the AL in RBI and all of baseball in doubles, slugging percentage, and OPS (1.021).
Big Papi didn't retire because his skills have eroded, however. He retired because he's been playing through foot and ankle pain for years, and he no longer wants to go through the grind of a 162-game season. All the travel and playing every single day takes its toll.
I'm sure once spring training opens and the regular season begins, Ortiz will miss baseball. How could he not? It's all he's ever known. Most recently retired players say they miss the comradery more than anything. Whether Ortiz misses it enough to attempt a comeback remains to be seen. I'd bet against it.