Should David Ortiz appear tonight for the Red Sox against the Yankees at Fenway Park as the designated hitter, and by all accounts he will, he will set a new Major League Baseball record for most appearances as a DH with 1644 games, surpassing former slugger Harold Baines. Ortiz already holds the record for most starts in league history by a DH with 1625, well ahead of Baines at 1565 starts.
Big Papi is far and away the leader in most offensive categories as a designated hitter: most plate appearances (7188), most hits (1779), most doubles (450), most home runs (385), and most RBI (1256). Counting only players with at least 2000 plate appearances as a DH, his OPS of .941 ranks second to Edgar Martinez (.959).
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!
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.
The defending 2013 world champion Boston Red Sox are set to open the 2014 regular reason tomorrow in Baltimore against the Orioles, an American League East division rival. The Red Sox, who surpassed the expectations of most prognosticators last season to win their third World Series in ten seasons, will be managed for a second year by John Farrell. After finishing the opening series, Boston will open Fenway Park this Friday versus the Milwaukee Brewers.
Some of the new faces include veteran catcher A.J. Pierzynski, outfielder Grady Sizemore, and reliever Edward Mujica. In what was a relatively quiet spring, Sizemore was the big story; returning to baseball after being limited to 112 games between 2010-2011 and no games over the past two season, he outperformed expectations and displaced Jackie Bradley, the expected starting center fielder, from the major league roster.