The Recurring Achilles MORE: Its not about curses, Papi


The Recurring Achilles MORE: Its not about curses, Papi

It's not every day that we have reason to be positive about the Red Sox. But today, with the the encouraging returns of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford, the potential reemergence of Adrian Gonzalez and the 3-1 record since the All-Star Break, there are a definitely a few sources of optimism.

But I'm still going to be a little negative. Not because I want to, but because it's pretty hard to look at tonight's lineup and ignore the glaring elephant in the box score.

Let's see if you can find it:

1. Ellsbury
2. Crawford
3. Daniel Nava!!!
4. Gonzalez
5. Will Middlebrooks
6. Jarrod Saltalamacchia
7. Ryan Sweeney
8. Mike Aviles
9. Pedro Ciriaco

OK, anything jump out?

That's right. Daniel Nava is hitting third. And while we can all agree that Nava's a fantastic and inspirational story, we know that he has no business hitting third for any team in the league, never mind one that has serious dreams of making the playoffs.

In other words, the Red Sox need David Ortiz.

Reports indicate that Ortiz didn't tear or rupture his Achilles last night and won't make a trip to the DL. Good news. However, he is in a walking boot and told reporters today that he should miss about a week. Hmm . . . could be worse. But there are a few concerns.

Mostly this: When Ortiz comes back, will he be the same Ortiz, or is this the kind of injury that might nag at him the rest of the season and chip away at the most dominant and consistent presence in the Sox lineup?

It's probably too early to tell, but we do have recent history to help out with a little hint.

Last night, during Bobby Valentine's postgame press conference, he mentioned that this injury was something that Ortiz has dealt with in the past. So this afternoon, I googled "David Ortiz Achilles" and found that just last summer, Ortiz suffered an injury that (on the surface at least) looks and sounds very similar to what happened last night.

Here's the story from August 18, 2011:

BOSTON -- Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, out with bursitis in his right heel, said Wednesday he likely will miss a week of action.Manager Terry Francona indicated Tuesday night that although Ortiz won't be placed on the disabled list, the DH will miss some time and is required to wear a walking boot."I should just chill, you know, rest," Ortiz said Wednesday before the Red Sox took on the Rays at Fenway Park. "I got this walking boot you guys saw me wearing; just got to wear it for a few days.

Bursitis refers to an inflamed bursal sac, which is filled with fluid and acts to lubricate and reduce the friction between muscles and tendons. When there is bursitis in the foot, it usually occurs in the bursa sac located between the Achilles tendon and heel bone. The sac protects the tendon from the pressure of the heel bone rubbing against it."
Sounds about right.

So what happened last year? Well, before he went down Ortiz was hitting exactly .300 with 24 home runs, 79 RB and a .945 OPS. He then missed 10 days with the injury.

He returned on August 24, and showed no signs of struggling. In fact, he was a beast; hitting .518 with four homers and nine RBI over the last seven games of the month.

Of course, like the rest of the team, his game went down the tubes in September, where he hit only .287 with one home run and eight RBI over 26 games. Was that a matter of an ailing Achilles or the pressure of life in a clubhouse that was constantly on the verge of combustion? We can't be sure. I'm guessing it was a combination of both. But there's no question that, regardless of the reason, the Sox will need more than that down the stretch this time around.

If not, they might as well just stick with Nava.

Rich can be reached at

NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945


NLCS: Cubs eliminate Dodgers, reach Series for first time since 1945

CHICAGO -- Cursed by a Billy Goat, bedeviled by Bartman and crushed by decades of disappointment, the Chicago Cubs are at long last headed back to the World Series.

Kyle Hendricks outpitched Clayton KershawAnthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras homered early and the Cubs won their first pennant since 1945, beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-0 Saturday night in Game 6 of the NL Championship Series.

The drought ended when closer Aroldis Chapman got Yasiel Puig to ground into a double play, setting off a wild celebration inside Wrigley Field, outside the ballpark and all over the city.

Seeking their first crown since 1908, manager Joe Maddon's team opens the World Series at Cleveland on Tuesday night. The Indians haven't won it all since 1948 - Cleveland and Cubs have the two longest title waits in the majors.

"This city deserves it so much," Rizzo said. "We got four more big ones to go, but we're going to enjoy this. We're going to the World Series. I can't even believe that."

All-everything Javier Baez and pitcher Jon Lester shared the NLCS MVP. Baez hit .318, drove in five runs and made several sharp plays at second base. Lester, a former World Series champion in Boston, was 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts against the Dodgers.

Deemed World Series favorites since opening day, the Cubs topped the majors with 103 wins to win the NL Central, then beat the Giants and Dodgers in the playoffs.

The Cubs overcame a 2-1 deficit against the Dodgers and won their 17th pennant. They had not earned a World Series trip since winning a doubleheader opener 4-3 at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29, 1945, to clinch the pennant on the next-to-last day of the season.

The eternal "wait till next year" is over. No more dwelling on a history of failure - the future is now.

"We're too young. We don't care about it," star slugger Kris Bryant said. "We don't look into it. This is a new team, this is a completely different time of our lives. We're enjoying it and our work's just getting started."

Hendricks pitched two-hit ball for 7 1/3 innings. Chapman took over and closed with hitless relief, then threw both arms in the air as he was mobbed by teammates and coaches.

The crowd joined in, chanting and serenading their team.

"Chicago!" shouted popular backup catcher David Ross.

The Cubs shook off back-to-back shutout losses earlier in this series by pounding the Dodgers for 23 runs to win the final three games.

And they were in no way overwhelmed by the moment on Saturday, putting aside previous frustration.

In 1945, the Billy Goat Curse supposedly began when a tavern owner wasn't allowed to bring his goat to Wrigley. In 2003, the Cubs lost the final three games of the NLCS to Florida, punctuated with a Game 6 defeat when fan Steve Bartman deflected a foul ball.

Even as recently as 2012, the Cubs lost 101 times.

This time, no such ill luck.

Bryant had an RBI single and scored in a two-run first. Dexter Fowler added two hits, drove in a run and scored one.

Contreras led off the fourth with a homer. Rizzo continued his resurgence with a solo drive in the fifth.

That was plenty for Hendricks, the major league ERA leader.

Hendricks left to a standing ovation after Josh Reddick singled with one out in the eighth. The only other hit Hendricks allowed was a single by Andrew Toles on the game's first pitch.

Kershaw, dominant in Game 2 shutout, gave up five runs and seven hits before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the sixth. He fell to 4-7 in the postseason.

The Dodgers haven't been to the World Series since winning in 1988.

Pitching on five days' rest, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 30 pitches in the first. Fowler led off with a double, and Bryant's single had the crowd shaking the 102-year-old ballpark.

They had more to cheer when left fielder Andrew Toles dropped Rizzo's fly, putting runners on second and third, and Ben Zobrist made it 2-0 a sacrifice fly.

The Cubs added a run in the second when Addison Russell doubled to deep left and scored on a two-out single by Fowler.


Maddon benched slumping right fielder Jason Heyward in favor of Albert Almora Jr.

"Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense," Maddon said. "I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder, too."

Heyward was 2 for 28 in the playoffs - 1 for 16 in the NLCS.


Kerry Wood, wearing a Ron Santo jersey, threw out the first pitch and actor Jim Belushi delivered the "Play Ball!" call before the game. Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder and actor John Cusack were also in attendance. And Bulls great Scottie Pippen led the seventh-inning stretch.