Just nine shy of 500 career home runs with 48 games left to play, David Ortiz has an opportunity to become the 27th player in Major League Baseball history to reach that mark before the season ends. With little to play for other than pride, this may be the only thing left for the Red Sox to champion in 2015. Having reached the required number of plate appearances this season to guarantee his return in a Boston uniform in 2016, chances are excellent that number 500 will come with the Red Sox. So how likely will it happen this year?
In franchise history, only one player, Ted Williams, has hit at least 500 home runs in a Boston uniform. Jimmie Foxx and Manny Ramirez are the only other two players to hit number 500 with the club. “Big Papi” has 433 home runs with the Red Sox, second most in team history; he hit his other 58 with the Twins over his first six seasons in baseball. Whether he can hit another 67 home runs with the Red Sox, thereby finishing with 500 in a Boston uniform, is another story for another day.
The 2014 Red Sox baseball season was one of disappointment as Boston was unable to repeat as World Series champions and finished last in the American League East for the second time in three seasons. Even so, as this year draws to a close, we look forward as always to another season of baseball, hopefully ending as it did in 2013 with another World Series title for the local nine.
Some dates to mark down on your calendar:
12 February: Truck Day
20 February: Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers
25 February: All players report to Fort Myers
05 March: First official spring training game (versus Minnesota)
06 March: First spring training game at JetBlue Park (versus Miami)
06 April: Opening Day versus Philadelphia at Citizens Bank Park
10 April: First game versus New York at Yankee Stadium
13 April: Opening Day at Fenway Park (versus Washington)
01 May: First game versus New York at Fenway Park
Everything related to how Boston has responded over the past year to the Marathon bombing may be summed up by what David Ortiz said from the heart five days later in the first Red Sox game at Fenway Park.
This jersey that we wear today: it doesn’t say Red Sox, it says Boston. … This is our f**king city, and no one is going to dictate our freedom. Stay strong!
We are #BostonStrong.
Does anyone recall what happened at last year’s Opening Day ceremonies at Fenway Park? Neither do I…
The only thing that might be memorable from that day were two things: one, the Red Sox won 3-1 over the Orioles, extending their home opener win streak to nine, and two, it proved to be the last game in the consecutive sellout streak. The next night, the streak ended at 820 games, which included postseason games at Fenway Park.
Today, that does not matter. After taking two-of-three in Baltimore, Boston returns to its home field for a celebration that should match or perhaps surpass the celebrations held at the home openers in 2005 and 2008. After the defending World Series champions were showcased at the White House earlier this week, now comes what should be the final mention of last year’s success: a pregame ceremony complete with all the trimmings (gold, to be specific) and the presentation of rings to players and team personnel.
The slate has been wiped clean and, save for Friday’s pregame ceremony at Fenway Park that will celebrate Boston’s 2013 championship season one last time, the Red Sox must now focus on the task at hand, which is to navigate through another 162-game schedule in the hopes of making the postseason for a second consecutive season.
It was a relatively quiet off-season for the local nine. The one notable subtraction was the loss of Jacoby Ellsbury to free agency, who agreed to sign with Boston’s division rival, the New York Yankees. Also gone from the team are two other key cogs from last season’s machine: catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (signed with the Miami Marlins) and shortstop Stephen Drew (currently unsigned). There were also a few notable additions, too, including catcher A.J. Pierzynski, outfielder Grady Sizemore, and reliever Edward Mujica, all of whom made the Opening Day roster.
Otherwise, the team taking the field this afternoon at Orioles Park at Camden Yards is for all intents and purposes the same one that we saw playing for postseason glory this past October. The starting rotation carries over from last season, as does the right side of the infield, the corner outfielders, and the key bullpen components.