Former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine says David Ortiz spent more time than expected on the disabled list before playing one game and then returning to it after the team made a major trade that signaled it would not compete for a postseason berth.
Valentine made his remarks Tuesday in an interview with NBC's Bob Costas airing several hours after John Farrell was introduced as Boston's new manager.
Ortiz was working out at Fenway Park on Tuesday and spoke to Farrell amid reports that he and the team were closing in on a two-year deal to keep the potential free agent in Boston.
The designated hitter missed 71 of the last 72 games with a strained right Achilles and hit .318 with 23 homers and 60 RBIs. He had played in 89 of the first 90 games. His other game was on Aug. 24, one day before the Red Sox traded Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"David Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week," Valentine said in an interview on Costas Tonight on NBC Sports Network. "He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we're not going to run this race and we're not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there."
The Red Sox beat the Kansas City Royals 4-3 on Aug. 24 to improve to 60-66. After the trade, they were 9-27 and finished at 69-93, their worst record since 1965. They came in last in the AL East, four games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.
Valentine was fired the day after Boston ended the season with an eight-game losing streak.
ESPN reported on Tuesday that the Red Sox are closing in on a two-year deal with Ortiz and hope to finalize it this week, according to a baseball source. The report said the compensation has not been determined and that Ortiz is believed to be seeking $25 million.
He earned $14.575 million this season in a one-year deal.
General manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday he's talked several times with the designated hitter's agent, Fernando Cuza.
"We've had good dialogue since the season ended," he said. "The goal remains the same. We want him back in a Red Sox uniform, and we'll continue to work toward that end."