David Ortiz has major doubts about the Red Sox lineup beyond Rafael Devers.
Appearing on WEEI, Ortiz laid out how he'd approach Devers as an opponent, and the young slugger's not going to like it.
"If I'm facing him I'm pitching around him, regardless," Ortiz said, per WEEI.com. "No doubt about it. You're talking about one of the most feared hitters in baseball right now. I have been there before, and if I had no one behind me they won't pitch to me. You know that."
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Ortiz was blessed for the bulk of his Red Sox career to have lineup protection, be it Manny Ramirez at the start of his Red Sox career, or Hanley Ramirez at the end of it. His most frustrating season might've been 2014, when he begged management to sign Nelson Cruz to provide some thunder around him, but instead served as a one-man band as the only player in the lineup with more than 17 homers (he hit 35).
At least that Red Sox team was coming off a World Series and eventually introduced Mookie Betts. This one is coming off a last-place finish and lost Xander Bogaerts and J.D. Martinez, two sluggers who could've provided support to Devers, the club's lone returning All-Star.
Perhaps Devers will receive support from rookie Triston Casas, who combines massive power with impressive patience, but hit just .197 last year while battling multiple injuries. Or help could come from recent signee Adam Duvall, who's only two years removed from blasting 38 homers and leading the NL in RBIs with 113, but is coming off a .213 season cut short by wrist surgery. Or maybe 38-year-old Justin Turner, who mostly batted fifth or sixth with the Dodgers last year, can turn back the clock.
Whoever it is, Ortiz worries that Devers won't get the help he needs, which could make for a frustrating season.
"You have to find someone who can consistently protect him so he can continue to keep seeing pitches," Ortiz said. "Because he is still too young and you don't want to get to the point where you get frustrated because your production is not quite there.
"You have to see both sides. You have to see if they are pitching you and you are missing pitches, or if they are not pitching you and you are chasing pitches. So, we'll see. Let's see what the season brings to the table."