Papi will be missed -- even by his opponents

Guests at charity golf tournament -- including Jones, Bautista and Stroman -- reflect on Ortiz's impact

December 3rd, 2016

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- The reality that won't swing his big bat again is still sinking in for his friends from around the game who have competed against him for so long.

Many of them joined the gregarious slugger this weekend for his ninth annual charity golf tournament, which provided three days of constant laughs and camaraderie.

Ortiz talks retirement, Sox at charity golf event

"I'm not going to miss him with men on base, but I'm going to miss the person and the player and that smile," Orioles center fielder said. "Even though we're opponents, he made you better. He made you want to be better. That's Big Papi."

Ortiz's impact on his opponents is obvious just by the guest list for the gathering in Punta Cana this weekend. Jones, , , , , , , , and were part of the impressive group.

Ortiz can sure draw a crowd.

"He's one of the most outgoing guys, a big teddy-bear personality that everybody loves," Bautista said. "I'm certainly going to miss him being in the game -- except when we played against him and he was hitting balls over the fence."

Even the opponents who were victimized by Ortiz's heroics are going to miss the battles.

"It's a big boulder off my back," Stroman said. "He's a guy that somehow finds the barrel on every pitch you throw, at whatever location. It's going to be a little sad not competing against him. I loved that. I love the fact that I'm trying to strike him out and he's trying to hit a homer and we both know that. And at the end of the day, we both respect each other. He's the man. I hope he somehow comes back and plays at some point."

The fact that Ortiz left following one of his most productive seasons has made the reality of his retirement a little harder to grasp.

"Man, Papi's gone now. He's really retired," Jones said. "What if Boston offered him, like, one year or two years at $25 million a year? Papi, would you take one year, $28 million? He says no. his feet hurt. His ankles hurt. His body hurts."

Then again, how many people get to go out like Ortiz did?

"I think what he's doing is phenomenal, going out on top the way he did," said Gary Sheffield. "He got a chance to play in the playoffs and had one of his best years ever and is walking away from the game. I think he left an impression on his teammates and the guys that are still in the game. The impression that he left, these guys will always remember that."