|Mental ailment may be hurting Papi|
Written by Daniel Paulling (Contact & Archive) on May 17, 2009
David Ortiz has had a strong batting eye throughout his career. That is what makes his current struggles that much more difficult to comprehend. Most hitters decline after the age of 30, but hitters with stronger batting eyes shouldn't decline this rapidly. They tend to age gracefully.
Ortiz suffered injuries to his wrist, knee and shoulder the last few seasons, and those injuries probably contributed to his declining batting statistics the last two seasons.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe hints the problem may not be Ortiz's health.
Is the answer as simple as recovering from the partially torn sheath in his wrist that damaged his 2008 season? Is it as simple as his knee feeling better, his shoulder? Is it all health-related?
For weeks, the questions have been asked. And there have been no answers.
In an interview last week, Ortiz said that, physically, he's "better than ever," but he also hinted at a personal issue.
"People don't know," Ortiz said. "Sometimes they think we just come here to play baseball and that's it. We're human beings like everyone else. We have things to worry about.
"Sometimes that gets in the way. It's hard to have that free open mind you need to play this game. There's no way you can play this game with a busy mind. No way."
Read into that what you want. Ortiz says he's healthy, but that may be different than him actually being healthy. He could be hiding an injury just so he has an opportunity to play.
But the problem could also be mental. Ortiz has been horrible at the plate this season, completely missing pitches he used to hit for home runs. Because of his talent at the plate -- the quality batting eye we discussed earlier -- he shouldn't be declining this badly with age.
That means he must be battling something, whether it's an injury or a mental ailment. It seems to be the latter from this story.