All things considered, though, the Sox are thrilled the retiring slugger wants to sit it out.
"If it turns out he doesn't participate in the Home Run Derby, I think that's probably music to all of our ears," manager John Farrell said Wednesday after Ortiz told WEEI radio that he doesn't intend to take part in the contest. "But at the same time, he's earned the right to enjoy and experience that opportunity in San Diego as much as anyone."
Ortiz hasn't swung for the fences in the annual home run-hitting contest since 2010, when he won it in Anaheim, California. Entering play Wednesday, he led the majors with a 1.108 OPS and the Red Sox with 18 homers. His 521 career homers are the third most among active players, trailing only Alex Rodriguez (695)and Albert Pujols (574).
But while Ortiz would be a big attraction in the Derby, the Red Sox would prefer that he kick up his aching feet as much as possible. The 40-year-old designated hitter has started 66 of 78 games despite dealing with pain and soreness in his heels and ankles. In particular, Ortiz's feet flare up when he takes two bases at a time, and he leads the majors with 31 doubles.
"The one thing is, we've charted the total bases to date and particularly it's the doubles, the two-base running that really taxes him," Farrell said. "It's usually that fourth or fifth at-bat where it's starting to rear its head a little bit, so we try to get him off his feet when we can at that point. We know this will be an ongoing maintenance situation."