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We continue our week-long series of previews with designated hitter David Ortiz.
Terrible. Mind numbingly terrible.
Papi has been quite fortunate. Not only does he play for a manager who is loath to remove struggling veterans from the lineup (see: Bellhorn, Mark) but the past few seasons have provided convenient reasons (or excuses) to keep Papi in the lineup.
In 2009 he was still Big Papi, coming off a year in which he put up .507 SLG and had an OPS over 1.000 in three of the last four seasons. In 2010 the Sox were so injury ravaged they had little choice but to keep rolling him out there at DH. During spring training 2010 Francona was forced to go outside his own playbook by publicly stating that he and the organization will have little patience with Papi. The myriad injuries rendered those pronouncements moot.
In 2011, Papi will be given even more rope by Tito. The fact that he will be surrounded by dynamic hitters and, most likely, moved down in the order to sixth, there will be less pressure on him. Papi rebounded nicely to salvage each of the last two years (OPS+ over 100 in ’09 and ’10) but the games in April count just as much as the games in August and September.
At the age of 35, the Sox will be pleased if Papi can smack 30 HR. Due to the improved lineup, the other numbers are either inconsequential (AVG and OBP) or will take care of themselves (RBI and Runs Scored).