The Recurring Achilles MORE: Its not about curses, Papi

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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 rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com.

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

Broadcasting role unlikely for Ortiz, who met with Red Sox this week

BOSTON - It's a tad ironic the Red Sox met with David Ortiz on Tuesday about his post-playing career, and then the offense went out and did nothing and Xander Bogaerts was publicly lamenting Ortiz's absence two days later.

John Henry, Tom Werner, Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza, met at Fenway Park on Tuesday to discuss the retired slugger’s future role with the organization, team president Sam Kennedy said. 

MORE RED SOX

Nothing's imminent, but there's one thing Ortiz is unlikely to do with the Sox in the near future: broadcasting. He could still do some of that in the postseason for say, FOX, but it appears an arrangement with NESN isn't in the cards for now, per Kennedy.

Ortiz's role with the Red Sox is still expected to be wide-ranging, something bigger than the standard alumnus agreement. He seems set on taking his time, enjoying his retired life, saying over the weekend he wants to be able to give the job the time it deserves. 

Kennedy in April was unsure if anything would get done this year. 

As for the team's play without Ortiz, and Bogaerts' comments?

"This is an incredibly talented ballclub," Werner said Friday at a luncheon benefitting the Red Sox Foundation and the Foundation To Be Named Later. "I’m really not terribly concerned. Like all fans, I’m a bit frustrated when we don’t give great pitching run support.

"We struggled the last couple of nights. It’s frustrating to think that Chris Sale, who I think is the best pitcher in the American League, doesn’t have much run support. But it’s April. I've been taught to not really look at the standings 'til July. Frustrated by the past two days, but look at the standings, and we’re only one win behind the Cubs. So you know, I mean I wish we were playing a little bit better,  but the team is going to bounce back."

Werner reiterated the Sox have room in their budget to add players ahead of the trade deadline.


 

Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

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Red Sox-Cubs lineups: Pedroia hits sixth, Pomeranz on mound

The offensively challenged Red Sox welcome the defending world champion Cubs (something you haven’t been able to write since 1909) to Fenway Park tonight for a three-game series. 

Boston (11-10) has the fewest home runs in the majors (11) and is tied for next-to-last with Toronto in the American League in runs scored (78). The Red Sox scored only once in the two-game sweep by the Yankees (on an RBI groundout by Chris Young in the ninth inning Wednesday). 

They turn to left-hander Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 4.60 ERA) tonight against Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta (3-0, 3.65), who flirted with a no-hitter at Fenway (7 2/3, 10 strikeouts in a 2-0 Chicago win) the last the time Cubs visited in 2014. 

Dustin Pedroia (.242) is hitting sixth for the first time in his career and Xander Bogaerts (.313) leads off for the Red Sox.

Earlier Friday, the Red Sox have added utility man Chase d’Arnaud - acquired off waivers from the Atlanta Braves - to the 25-man roster and called up right-handed reliever Ben Taylor from Triple-A Pawtucket.

To make room on the roster, lefty reliever Robbie Ross Jr. and utility man Steve Selsky were optioned to Pawtucket. 

The full lineups: 

CUBS
Kyle Schwarber DH
Kris Bryant 3B
Anthony Rizzo 1B
Ben Zobrist LF
Addison Russell SS
Willson Contreras C
Jason Heyward RF
Javier Báez 2B
Albert Almora CF

Jake Arrieta RHP 

RED SOX
Xander Bogaerts SS
Andrew Benintendi LF
Mookie Betts RF
Hanley Ramirez DH
Mitch Moreland 1B
Dustin Pedroia 2B
Jackie Bradley Jr. CF
Christian Vazquez C
Marco Hernandez 3B

Drew Pomeranz LHP