BOSTON -- Now that David Ortiz's No. 34 is officially retired, the attention can shift to when he will come back to work for the Red Sox.
For months, there has been dialogue between the club and Ortiz on finding a role that will be a good fit for the former left-handed-hitting slugger.
"Me and the organization, we've been talking for a while about me working with the organization," Ortiz said. "Probably [team president] Sam Kennedy can give you guys more info about it. But it's going to happen, and at some point I'm going to be able to help out somewhere, somehow, some way."
Upon taking Ortiz up on his advice and asking Kennedy, he responded, "Getting closer!" via text message.
• Social media overflowing with Ortiz tributes
Kennedy has mentioned the possibility of a hybrid role in which Ortiz can serve as a mentor/instructor to players at different levels of the organization while also doing media and public appearances.
The question isn't if Ortiz will return to the Red Sox, but when.
Knowing that he casts a large shadow, Ortiz chose not to go to Spring Training, and he hadn't been to Fenway Park for a game this season until Friday's festivities.
"Well, I could never entirely walk away," Ortiz said. "I have been around. I have been watching the games, and I have been in touch with my teammates. I have been in touch with the organization. You know, I just don't like to, you know, be in the way of anything.
"I know that me retiring, it was going to have a big impact on what we do around here. So I told myself, 'Give everybody their space,' and now that I'm not playing, I don't want to be a distraction. And I know that coming to the field sometimes, it can cause a distraction or something. I have been able to keep my distance so I'm not in anybody's way. But I stay in touch with everybody, and I have been pretty busy also, doing a lot of things."
The Red Sox appreciate the way Ortiz has handled the situation. But at the same time, they miss his presence.
"I think David's keen awareness of himself and how a team works, I think that is at the root of his decision to keep the space that he has so far," Red Sox manager John Farrell said.