The Boston.com Red Sox page is currently running the headline, "How could the Red Sox replace David Ortiz?" As I'm sure you all know, Big Papi will be sidelined for at least five days with inflammation in both heels, meaning he is unlikely to be ready for Opening Day.
So how DO the Red Sox replace Ortiz? Boston.com has a few suggestions, ranging from Mike Napoli (with Lyle Overbay at first) to Juan Carlos Linares. But the answer is much more simple than any of that: you absolutely cannot replace David Ortiz, not in the lineup, and not in the clubhouse, and not in the hearts of Red Sox Nation.
We've long known this day was coming, and now we're getting a (hopefully) short glimpse of what life will be life after Ortiz - uncertain, unnerving, unpleasant. Papi has been a Red Sox stalwart for a decade now, coming through in the most stressful games, and providing a constant smile in the clubhouse.
Ortiz has hit 343 homeruns while in Boston, and, perhaps more impressively, has legged out thirteen triples in that time (last season was the only triple-less year for Ortiz in his Red Sox career). On average Ortiz has hit .290 each season, with a .389 OBP and 34 homeruns - you can't replace that kind of production at this stage, and you can't replace one of the leaders in the clubhouse.
Though the team will try to brush this off like no big deal, the loss of Ortiz for even the first week of the season is huge, and if this is a sign of things to come for the big lefty, the Sox could be in serious trouble this year.