FORT MYERS, Fla. — As the Red Sox prepare to start the season without David Ortiz, it is worth reviewing what was said in October when he was signed to a two-year deal and what protection the Red Sox built into that contract.
Ortiz received a $1 million signing bonus and a base salary of $14 million for the 2013 season. His salary for 2014 is $11 million and can expand to $15 million if Ortiz spends fewer than 20 days on the disabled list in 2013 because of the Achilles injury.
It will be interesting to see whether Ortiz is able to beat that deadline and retain his full salary for 2014.
Here's what Ben Cherington said on Nov. 5 when Ortiz's new deal was announced:
“As with any player you’ve got to get to the bottom of the health and figure out what sort of risk is involved there. Our benefit is that we know David so well.
"No. 1, we now how hard he’s going to work to put himself in the best position to play. And since we’ve worked with him so much, we know what happened with the Achilles this year. We feel [there are] some things we can do proactively to help him. He’s feeling a lot better now. It’s not a concern moving forward any more than it would be for any player.”
Four months later, it's safe to say that it is a concern.
Here is what Ortiz said about his Achilles on Nov. 5:
"It’s good. I’m moving forward pretty good. I’ve already started doing leg exercises and stuff. I’m feeling good."
On Dec. 7, when Ortiz spoke to reporters before his charity golf tournament in the Dominican Republic, his optimism had waned. Here is a passage from a Globe story:
“At this point not yet,” Ortiz said on when asked if he was working out like he normally would. “Very soon.”
Spring training starts Feb. 12 for pitchers and catchers and a few days later for position players. Will Ortiz be ready?
“I hope so. Hopefully,” he said.
Keep all that in mind as you follow this saga. Because the idea of Ortiz being ready early in April seems unrealistic.
Ortiz has yet to play in a spring training game and probably will not before the team breaks camp on March 30 given that he has been shut down for at least a week and would first have to run the bases without discomfort before playing.
Once Ortiz does start playing, he would need at least 35-50 plate appearances in extended spring training or minor league games before being ready to rejoin the Sox. That is based on what he has said. Add in some days off and that process could take a few weeks.
The guess here? Ortiz returns between April 15 and May 1. But that assumes there aren't any setbacks and this road has been full of potholes since July.
Makes you wonder what the Sox hoped to gain when Ortiz was allowed to play on Aug. 24.