The headlines scream at you today.
“Valentine: Ortiz Decided Not To Play”
“Bobby V: Ortiz Decided Not To Play Any More”
“Bobby Valentine: Ortiz Bailed After Trade.”
It sounds like a big deal. It usually is when a former manager accuses a star player of not wanting to play. So let’s look at the facts.
Here is exactly what Valentine said to Bob Costas of NBC Sports: “David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week.
“He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that [the Red Sox’ trade with the Dodgers Aug. 25] meant that we’re not going to run this race and we’re not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.”
Now to the facts:
— The Red Sox were 60-66 on Aug 24, 13.5 games out of first place and 8.5 games out of the wild card with 36 games left to play.
— The Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford to the Dodgers on Aug. 25.
— Ortiz reinjured his right Achilles’ tendon while playing Aug. 24. He was physically incapable of playing Aug. 25 and was placed on the disabled list Aug. 27.
So Valentine is incorrect in saying that Ortiz decided not to play. Ortiz was on the disabled list.
But was there a time in mid-September, when he was eligible to come off the disabled list, that Ortiz could have played?
Maybe so. Big Papi was moving around fairly well and if the Sox had been a game out of a playoff spot, maybe he would have tried it. Even a limping Ortiz can be a dangerous hitter.
Again, let’s look at the facts. Ortiz was eligible to come off the disabled list Sept. 11. The Sox were 15.5 games out of a wild card berth at that point with 21 games to play.
Ortiz coming back at that point would have been irresponsible for all involved. There was nothing to be gained and everything to lose. A severe Achilles’ tendon injury would have been a caeer-ender for him.
Ortiz is still getting treatment for his injury now. To even hint at the idea that he was jaking it is irresponsible.
So while Valentine is somewhat correct in saying that Ortiz decided not to play, Ortiz would have been foolish to play.
Beyond the facts, Valentine picked a bad target. Ortiz was one of the few veteran Red Sox players who were public in their support of Valentine. That was the case from spring training until the end of the season. To cast doubt on Ortiz’s effort is hardly a way to pay him back.
Valentine has a way of creating these headlines, and this won’t be the last one one. But the Sox have a new manager and it’s probably time that all of us — including Valentine — move on.