- Option #1- is a straight up replacement. There really is not back up DH in camp unless you want to count Mauro Gomez. This is not the most likely option. Other potential fill-ins are Mike Carp, Daniel Nava and Mark Hamilton.
- Option #2- Keep 3 catchers. Ryan Lavarnway is a potential DH, but he is most likely to start the year catching everyday at AAA. The Red Sox will not keep 3 catchers on the roster unless Big Papi is on the DL and they plan to use Lavarnway at DH. In order for this to happen Lavarnway will need to start producing with the bat a little bit better in spring training or if Saltalammacchia's back keeps acting up. If the Sox feel that Salty needs a little protection and Lavarnway can be a part of a DH rotation than they may keep 3 catchers.
- Option #3- Keep JBJr on the roster and use J. Gomes as a DH. JBJr continues to impress in Spring Training (here's today's JBJr update) and while common sense continues to tell us that he has yet to master the AA and AAA levels, temptation will grow much stronger by the day to keep him on the team if Big Papi is a no go to start the season.
- Option #4- Keep an extra 1B/OF type and rest Mike Napoli's hips a little bit more early in the season by using him as a DH 80% of the time.
This spring training situation also gives us a glimpse at the future of the Sox DH position in '15 or if Big Papi's achilles injury is much worse than we fear and is out for the season (or a big chunk of it). I simply think that Papi is pulling a veteran move to get a little more rest during what is a longer than usual spring training. We are probably about 7 to 10 days away from reading an article that talks about how Papi has made great strides and he's back to 100% and ready to start revving it up for the regular season.
If Papi is in fact pulling rank it is probably a smart move. He needs to save his legs for a long season and at age 37 he and the team should be thinking big picture and making sure that he is healthy in August and September rather than February and March. The fact that this spring training is longer than usual because of the World Baseball Classic means that he can still get plenty of AB's to get ready for the regular season even if he misses another week. He also may be using this injury as a way to get out of playing for the Dominican in the WBC (which is another good thing for the Red Sox in my opinion).
As Deacon likes to remind us, what happens early in spring training doesn't mean much, and he's right. I believe that we are just a week or so away from Big Papi being declared healthy and ramping up his in game AB's to get ready for the season. After all he's done for the Red Sox over the last ten plus seasons I wouldn't be surprised if he's just pulling veteran rank and getting a little extra heal time (he's earned his not sure that Clay Buchholz has and that pun was intended btw).
Of course there's no way that he would just decide to stop playing because of a small trade...right Bobby V?