COMMENTARY | The Boston Red Sox are off and running this spring. While quite a few players are off to successful starts, others have been slower out of the gate.
However, it's still a bit early to dissect a player's strengths and weaknesses on the field. On the other hand, conditions off the field can be critically evaluated.
As with any other team, the Red Sox have had their fair share of disappointments.
Here's a look at the top three:
David Ortiz: It's not so much a lack of production as it is a lack of activity in general.
Ortiz still hasn't done much of anything since his Achilles injury last season, other than sign a new two-year, $26 million deal. Big Papi was still feeling pain just this past weekend and still has no timetable for a return. The length of his rehab must be a concern for the Sox, although his recent ability to run the bases has provided a glimmer of hope. Maybe this is a sign of even more baseball activity to come.
Ortiz is such a valuable part of this lineup that his omission would be drastic. Mike Napoli and Will Middlebrooks wouldn't be protected, the bench would be thinned out, and there would be even more pressure placed on the rest of the lineup to produce. The last thing the lineup needs is more pressure, considering the starting rotation is so thin.
It should also be noted that even when Ortiz comes back, there's no guarantee that he'll stay healthy. Big Papi is 37 years old, so his return isn't going to be as smooth as before. It will be a blessing if the Red Sox are able to get 120+ games out of Ortiz.
Bryce Brentz: He shot himself. He literally shot himself.
The outfield prospect has been sidelined this spring after shooting himself in the leg in late January. The gun was accidentally discharged while Brentz was cleaning it.
Brentz was very lucky. According to GM Ben Cherington, the injury isn't expected to negatively affect Brentz's baseball career. However, he still hasn't been cleared to play in a game.
Brentz was a non-roster invitee to camp this season and was expected to push for a potential spot in Boston. The 24-year-old had a very solid 2012, splitting time in Double-A and Triple-A Pawtucket. Brentz finished the season with a .290 BA, 17 HRs and 76 RBIs.
Brentz was expected to start in Pawtucket this season, but a productive spring could have changed that. Instead, another youngster, Jackie Bradley Jr., has taken the spotlight. While Bradley is still a longshot for the parent club on opening day, he is still leaps and bounds ahead of Brentz at this time. Who knows what may have been if Brentz had not shot himself.
Drake Britton: He wasn't a household name until yesterday when the news came out about his arrest. Britton was arrested Saturday night in Fort Myers for driving under the influence, reckless driving, and property damage. He was reportedly driving as fast as 111 mph. On Sunday, he was optioned to Double-A Portland for the remainder of the spring.
The Red Sox have issued a statement regarding the incident and are taking it very seriously. This is the second Boston player in two years to be charged with a DUI at spring training. Bobby Jenks was arrested in March of 2012 and accused of DUI, hit and run, and numerous other charges.
Britton had been struggling before the incident. He had an 8.10 ERA and a WHIP of 2.70 in 3 1/3 innings pitched. Britton finished last season in Portland where he was returned Sunday.
It's uncertain what the Sox may do with Britton. More than likely he will remain on this team. But, maybe it would be a good time for the Red Sox to make an example of Britton to deter this type of behavior.
Chris Sedenka is a Yahoo! Contributor in Sports covering the Boston Red Sox. You can listen to his daily radio show on 96.3FM in Portland, ME or at thebigjab.com. He is also the voice of the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League.
You can follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisSedenka.
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