Delino noted it earlier: The Red Sox's David Ortiz has been having a rough go of it lately. Now Manny Ramirez's former partner in crime is being given his own personal All-Star Break—in May. From the Boston Herald:
Slumping slugger David Ortiz will not play again until the Red Sox return to Boston on Tuesday, in the hopes that a mental break helps him escape the worst slump of his career.
The team made the decision yesterday to sit Ortiz for the entire weekend series vs. the Mariners rather than send him back out when he clearly is at a low point mentally. Ortiz went 0-for-7 for the first time in his career Thursday against the Angels and stranded a team-record-tying 12 runners on base, grounding weakly to the catcher with the bases loaded in the 12th inning of a 5-4 loss.
"Sometimes stepping back can help," manager Terry Francona said. "Maybe I'm too late in doing this. I hope not. I just think he needs to take a deep breath. Even when he's struggling, we love his presence. This is the time to take a step back, take a deep breath, and help us in the long run."
Ortiz, listed at 33 years of age, is in the middle of a four-year, $52 million contract that ends in 2010, with a club option for 2011. And the Red Sox, 21-15 and in second place in the AL East, are in the middle of a quandary: How to coax $26 million of production from a player who looks ten years older than he's supposed to be?
"At this point it seems like benching him or moving him down to the 8 hole in the lineup is a tacit admission that Ortiz is a former PED user and that he is no longer able to even function at the Major League level without any help," writes Major League Jerk (via Deadspin).
While that sentiment goes straight to the most cynical of assumptions—barring evidence, Ortiz's fate should be based entirely on his on-field performance—Red Sox fans can hardly be faulted for raising the specter of PEDs, especially in light of Ramirez's recent suspension.
So why should Dodger fans care about David Ortiz? Because if Manny is your brain on drugs, then "Big Sloppy" just might be your brain off drugs. And come July, if Manny can't cope without his fertility treatments, then the Dodgers and Red Sox both might have egg on their faces.
Ortiz photo by Mark Avery/AP