With an opening night showdown with the defending world series champion New York Yankees looming over Fenway Park, questions remain unanswered regarding the upcoming season. The question that has all of Red Sox nation on the edge of their seats is what kind of production will David Ortiz deliver?
In 2009, Ortiz's early season struggles took him through the 40th game of the year with a batting average under .200 and no big flies. Ortiz was unable to catch up to fastballs and adjust to breaking balls.
Worst of all, Big Papi lost the swagger Red Sox nation had learned to love. Ortiz often sat in the dugout after a failed at-bat, head in hands, pining for the days when he couldn't fail, instead of the harsh reality that he couldn't succeed.
Despite an abysmal first 40 games of the season, Ortiz was able to limp into the all-star break batting .222 with 12 long balls and 47 RBI. During the last 69 games of the season, Ortiz was able to break out of his slump by hitting .258 with 16 home runs and 52 RBI.
Heading into the 2010 season, the Red Sox will rely on Ortiz for major offensive contributions after the loss of Jason Bay to the Mets. At the age of 34 and with nagging wrist and knee injuries, it is clear Ortiz's career is fading fast. This year could be the last shot Big Papi has to make a major impact for the Red Sox in hopes of a run into late October.
Only time will tell if the fading star that is David Ortiz will be able to relive past glory through a magical summer, or burn out during the 162 game marathon that is Major League Baseball.