Ortiz won't be playing on Opening Day from the sound of it, but that doesn't mean his season is in jeopardy
David Ortiz missed a significant chunk of 2012 due to his Achilles, and now, indirectly, that injury will cost him some time in 2013 as well. While his Achilles itself is still recovering, and the pain he is feeling isn't from that, it seems as if the toll of having a leg injury for this long has caught up to him, and it's resulted in inflammation in his heels. Because of this, Ortiz has changed his tune, and is no longer saying Opening Day is a realistic timetable for his return:
Ortiz says goal had been to play Opening Day. Acknowledges that's not realistic; more important to be healthy for '5 and a half months'— Alex Speier (@alexspeier) March 11, 2013
This is not unexpected, as the news of inflammation also came with the announcement that he would be shut down for a week to give him time to recover. Ortiz did not receive a shot to reduce the inflammation, as instead he and the Red Sox will see if it all disappears naturally via this shutdown.
Ortiz is right when he says it's the five and a half months after Opening Day that matter. Yes, every game counts the same in the standings, but if not pushing the issue and coming back in mid-April means Ortiz gets to play without incident during the year by virtue of giving his heels literal time to cool down now, then it's worth it. In the meantime, the Red Sox certainly have options they can turn to.
The Red Sox could use Mike Napoli as their designated hitter temporarily, and let Lyle Overbay take over at first for a couple of weeks, just for his glove. They could keep Napoli at first, and use Jonny Gomes in a platoon at designated hitter with Overbay, letting Daniel Nava man left field by himself. Mauro Gomez could temporarily come up to be the DH, both Mike Carp and Overbay could be retained temporarily so as to avoid having Overbay use his opt-out... there are options, and while none of them are as attractive as having Ortiz play all season, there are certainly worse band-aids to slap on the wound in the lineup. Ask the Yankees.