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Red Sox medical staffer: David Ortiz was ‘essentially playing on stumps’

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The Boston Red Sox and Major League Baseball recently bid farewell to David Ortiz after a stellar career, although some wondered why the slugger was calling it quits after such a phenomenal season.

It turns out the wear and tear on Big Papi’s body was extreme and profound, according to comments from the Red Sox coordinator of sports medicine services.

In essence, Dan Dyrek told WEEI that Ortiz’s feet were in a terrible statedue to a chain reaction-like breakdown of the many moving parts in his lower legs.

“”He was essentially playing on stumps. Instead of having this nice, flexible, foot, ankle, calf mechanism to act as a shock absorber, he was playing on stumps,” Dyrek said of Ortiz. “And you can do that for only so long. He was in warrior mode trying to play through this. Once we diagnosed him and saw what was going on and started explaining things to him, there was actually a sense of relief because now he had an explanation of what he was in such excruciating pain.”

Dyrek went on to say that the condition with Ortiz’s feet deteriorated over the course of years, adding toughness got the slugger through it all.

“Once we started talking to him and he opened up, he said his ankles were on fire, and that was a pretty good description of what was going on, clinically,” he said. “The amount of pain was so intense.”

It’s shocking that Ortiz could put up such excellent numbers despite being in such rough shape. Ortiz triple-slashed .315/.401/.620 in his final season with 38 home runs and 127 RBI. And for the most part Ortiz’s numbers throughout the season remained fairly consistent overall despite his body continuing to break down.

Dyrek added the Red Sox never fully disclosed the full extent of Ortiz’s injuries because “his maladies defied simple explanation.”

All told, it’s somewhat miraculous how well Ortiz played in light of “essentially playing on stumps.” That said, it also makes his decision to hang up his cleats for good make a lot more sense.

[Hardball Talk]