Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz finds himself in an unusual situation with all the new faces on the team.
With plenty of new faces surrounding him, Ortiz "is still trying to make sense of it all," per The Boston Herald's John Tomase:
"These are strange times for everyone in the Red Sox organization, but they might be the strangest of all for David Ortiz.
"Just days after the the club conducted its second massive sell-off in three years, the veteran All-Star is still trying to make sense of it all.
"Ortiz remains the team's principal drawing card and without question its biggest star. He's also most assuredly in the home stretch of his career, with his 39th birthday looming in November and history making it clear no one slugs forever.
"Just months removed from possibly the most satisfying World Series title of his career, Ortiz finds himself wondering what exactly the future will hold.
"'We'll see how it goes,' he said yesterday, a refrain he would utter six more times in a brief interview. 'Who knows?'
"Typically the most ebullient presence in the clubhouse, Ortiz was noticeably subdued before last night's meaningless finale with the (New York) Yankees.
"It's easy to understand why. The back corner of the clubhouse across from Ortiz that once contained the lockers of John Lester and Jake Peavy now hosts Mike Napoli and Dustin Pedroia. That side of the clubhouse traditionally is reserved for pitchers and catchers -- Tim Wakefield and Jason Varitek sat back there for over a decade -- but the reconfiguration speaks to how upside-down things have turned since the flurry of trades that broke up the defending champs last week.
"Lester was the one player with more organizational seniority than Ortiz, arriving in 2002 draft just months before the Red Sox rescued Ortiz from the (Minnesota) Twins. Lester and started and won his first game with the Oakland A's over the weekend, aided by two hits from Jonny Gomes, who was shipped away in the same deal.
"Lester's partner in crime atop the Red Sox organization was John Lackey, a big-game performer who did the seemingly impossible by winning the Red Sox fans back onto his side. Lackey started and won a crucial NL Central matchup for the (St. Louis) Cardinals yesterday, shutting down the (Milwaukee) Brewers with seven innings of two-run ball.
"Peavy is in San Francisco, Stephen Drew was across the diamond playing for the Yankees last night. Even Mike Carp, such a valuable piece of last year's champs, went to the Rangers after being designated for assignment.
"So now Ortiz looks around the clubhouse and sees many new faces, but just as much uncertainty.
"'It's hard to see your good friends go, but what can you do?' he said. 'You know the reason why all these trades happened. Things weren't going well, and they feel like they've got to make a move to make the team better. We'll see. We got some good players back. Young, talented players. We'll see how it goes. We'll see how it goes down the road.'"
On July 29, ESPN New York's Johnette Howard wrote Ortiz is "the first slugger from his era to make the Hall of Fame":
"Ortiz, remember, was among the 104 players on the list of failed 2003 performance-enhancing drug tests that came out via a New York Times report in 2009. He still says he has no idea how he flunked the test, and the details have never been publicly explained.
"(Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris) Archer's complaints about Ortiz thinking 'he's bigger than the game' -- a charge that (former) Rays ace David Price first made in May, after drilling Ortiz the first time he faced him this season as a supposed payback for admiring the second homer he hit off Price in Game 2 of last season's ALCS -- should set off a bigger-picture thought:
"Ortiz is shaping up to be the first slugger from his era to make the Hall of Fame.
"Your realize that, right?
"Ortiz seems on an inexorable path to becoming something none of his contemporaries has so far: the steroid era's first Teflon slugger.
"'He's a Hall of Famer in my eyes,' Red Sox teammate Mike Napoli said Monday.
"But how is it that Ortiz seems poised to pull off what (Mark) McGwire (11 percent of this year's vote), Barry Bonds (34.7), Roger Clemens (35.4) and (Jose) Canseco (off the ballot after drawing just 1.1 percent) could not? Bonds, for example, dwarfed Ortiz's home run total, 762 to 456.
"Why does Ortiz alone seem poised to vault lightly over the steroid suspicions that were, in his case, admittedly incomplete when, say, Mike Piazza, another Hall of Fame shutout so far, could point out he has never failed an MLB-administered drug test, period?
"It's especially worth pondering if you're part of the Baseball Unwritten Rules tribe, because Ortiz does plenty to be irked about. As Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com pointed out, according to a website called 'Tater Trot Tracker' that has been timing home run trots since the start of the 2010 season, Ortiz is by far baseball's most egregious repeat offender when it comes to rubbing in his home runs."
The 38-year-old Ortiz has amassed 2,122 hits, 457 home runs and 1,511 RBIs on a .285 batting average in 2,076 career regular-season games through Aug. 5 for the Twins and Red Sox, per ESPN stats.