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Sports

November 5, 2012

Risky Ortiz deal the beginning of interesting offseason

BOSTON — Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington boards a flight this morning to the GM meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. with a lengthy to-do list.

He and new manager John Farrell must finish putting together the coaching staff and Cherington must begin to gather information on possible trade options and evaluate the worth of free agents.

One thing the second-year GM doesn’t have to worry about anymore is David Ortiz, who he re-signed Friday to a two-year $26 million deal with $4 million in possible incentives. The signing was announced at a press conference here at Fenway Park yesterday.

The word “risky” best describes this two-year contract. After all, the DH will be 37 on Nov. 18, failed a performance enhancing drug test in 2003, missed 72 games this past season with a strained Achilles tendon suffered jogging the bases and complained way too much about his one-year contract last season, showing he sometimes has a me-first personality when the Sox need team-first players.

Additionally, Ortiz showed signs of slowing down with the bat when he hit .238 in 2009, including a .143 May. He also batted .143 during the first month of ‘10 before rebounding to bat .270 that year.

But the Red Sox certainly weighed the negatives and positives, had the money to spend and needed a big bat in the middle of the order. If Ortiz resembles the type of hitter he was in 90 games in 2012 (he batted .318 with a .415 on-base percentage, 23 homers and 60 RBIs), then the Red Sox made the right move.

Boston averaged approximately one run less per game after Ortiz suffered his injury July 16.

The $4 million in incentives should provide Ortiz a reason to stay in the best shape possible.

“Towards the end of the year, we all, including David, spent a lot of time with our medical staff trying to figure out the right plan for him moving forward,” Cherington said after the press conference. “During the course of those conversations, it became pretty clear that this is something that we feel like can be managed. And knowing David, and how hard he will work at it, our medical staff is very optimistic about him being on the field a lot. There’s no guarantees.”

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