Can we be honest with each other?
David Ortiz is not likely to be ready for Opening Day. I know… I know… I heard the 5-7 day projection, but that was not a projection until he will be ready, that is the prescription for rest. He could be rushed back, but who wants to see an injured Papi go all 2009 again? No thanks. Get him straight.
In preparation for the possibility that Ortiz will likely miss some regular season, Pete Abraham wrote a typically thoughtful piece on the options for the Red Sox moving into the season. Frankly, coming off the disastrous 2012 season, each of the options seems reasonable. Anything has to be reasonable compared to the Pawtucket Rejects being wheeled out onto the Fenway infield last September.
Now remember how the Disabled List works to start the season. If Papi begins on the DL, that does not mean that he is out for the first 15 days of the season. The retroactive date for the 15 can be dated back into the Spring. Therefore, it is reasonable to start the 15 day clock now. Which means, finally, that Papi can start on the DL and start when he is ready, whether that means the second series or the second week.
So what are the options? Mauro Gomez (meh), Lavarnway (please catch him or designate him), Bradley (so, so tempting, but there are free agency clock and minor league at bat issues here), Overbay at first with Napoli at DH (you have to admit that this makes sense).
There is a wild card roll of the dice that Abraham adds almost as a footnote: Juan Carlos Linares.
I know, he looks like he is 43. I know, he has no Major League experience. A whole article could be written on his clear ceiling. But, again, we are talking a couple of weeks here, and we are talking about a designated hitter. Plus, his bat is hot and his spring – a time for competition – has to have made the powers that be take notice. Currently, he is hitting .364/.375/.545 in the spring. His career minor league numbers are .298/.346/.493, including .282/.312/.485 at AAA.
Listen, no one would suggest that he is going to be a Major League all-star. But, he is clearly capable of hitting. For what hopefully is a week or two without David Ortiz, he allows Bradley’s clock to sit at zero, keep Lavarnway developing his defensive game, and gives us the ability to shop Overbay to the likes of the Milwaukee Brewers or another first base needy team.
Now, when and if we find that Ortiz is going to need longer than a few weeks, I change my whole point. But for a short term attempt to catch lightning in a bottle, J.C. Linares keeps the organization in line and could provide some good at bats.