THIS IS GONNA HURT

Life with­out David Or­tiz is here.

Metro USA (Boston) - - FRONT PAGE - DANNY PI­CARD Lis­ten to “The Danny Pi­card Show” at dan­nypi­card.com, iTunes, Google Play, and on the Pod­castOne net­work. Danny can also be heard week­ends on WEEI 93.7 FM. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @Dan­nyPi­card.

Mon­day is go­ing to feel weird.

It’s Open­ing Day for the Red Sox. They host the Pitts­burgh Pi­rates. The tem­per­a­ture will be in the mid-40s. Pregame cer­e­monies at Fen­way Park will be busi­ness as usual. And when the first pitch is thrown by Rick Por­cello at ap­prox­i­mately 2:05 p.m., base­ball sea­son will have of­fi­cially be­gun.

Some­thing won’t feel right, though. There will be some­thing miss­ing. And in the bot­tom of the first in­ning, it will hit us like a ton of bricks.

David Or­tiz will not be there.

Per­haps he’ll make an ap­pear­ance at the ball park or be in at­ten­dance in some ca­pac­ity. But he won’t be where we’re used to see­ing him, and ul­ti­mately, where we all want him to be.

“Now bat­ting for the Red Sox, the des­ig­nated hit­ter, No. 34, David Or­tiz.”

Or­tiz is now re­tired. His base­ball ca­reer is over. It’s a day we all knew was com­ing. He an­nounced it the pre­vi­ous off­sea­son, spark­ing his “Farewell Tour” in 2016. But as much as we cel­e­brated his fi­nal year and said our good­byes the only way we know how, it’s not some­thing that has truly hit home just yet.

That will all change Mon­day af­ter­noon.

You’ll see Dustin Pe­droia. You’ll see Mookie Betts. You’ll see Han­ley Ramirez. But Big Papi won’t be there to drive them in. Or­tiz won’t be there to stare down the op­pos­ing pitcher as he takes his time strut­ting to the plate from the on-deck cir­cle. We won’t hear his name called, even though we’ll all be ex­pect­ing to hear it. That will be the mo­ment it hits us. Or­tiz is done. And he’s not walk­ing back through that door.

What makes this harsh re­al­ity so much more dev­as­tat­ing is the fact that, if Or­tiz did walk back through that door, he’d prob­a­bly hit .310 with 30 home runs and 110 RBI.

He walked away from the game hit­ting .315 with 38 home runs, 127 RBI, and a Ma­jor-League lead­ing OPS of 1.021 in his fi­nal sea­son.

Or­tiz was my Amer­i­can League MVP in 2016. There wasn’t a sin­gle hit­ter who pitch­ers feared more than him last year. And you don’t just lose an icon like that and move on like it’s noth­ing. That goes for both the fans and the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Or­tiz is a leg­end. But he’s a leg­end who can prob­a­bly still play at a high level, if he re­ally wanted to.

I don’t mean to make it sound like he wasn’t hurt­ing at the age of 40. Be­cause he was. And at that age, a 162-game sea­son is more than just a grind. Es­pe­cially when you play in 151 of those games at an MVP-cal­iber level.

I also don’t mean to get too dra­matic here. But if cham­pi­onships mean any­thing to you — and they should — then Or­tiz is the great­est Red Sox player who’s ever lived. That’s how I feel, at least. So I’m just try­ing to pre­pare you for what I imag­ine will be a “Oh [bleep], we’re never go­ing to see Big Papi play again” mo­ment.

The mere thought of it hasn’t been fun to talk about. And as much as we all think we’re pre­pared for life af­ter Or­tiz, there’s no way it’s ac­tu­ally hit home yet. That will come on Mon­day. Open­ing Day at Fen­way. With­out him.

It just won’t be the same.

GETTY IM­AGES

It’s not go­ing to be the same with­out Big Papi around.

“The Danny Pi­card Show” airs ev­ery week­day at Dan­nyPi­card.com. Danny can also be heard on WEEI 93.7 FM. @dan­nypi­card

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