Dombrowski: Red Sox prepared to go to camp without new bat

January 18, 2018

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Red Sox may head to spring training without the middle-of-the-lineup hitter they have been seeking since David Ortiz retired at the end of the 2016 season.

That’s by necessity, not choice.

After saying all winter that he would like a big bat to address the power outage that left the Red Sox last in the AL in homers in 2017, president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said on Thursday that he’s prepared to move forward without one.

“We’ll keep working at it,” Dombrowski said before the awards dinner for the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America. “But I do think we have a good club, no matter what.”

After leading the majors in runs in 2016, Ortiz’s last season before he retired, the Red Sox won 93 years for the second straight year in ’17 to claim the first back-to-back AL East titles in franchise history. But without Ortiz, the offensive production plummeted: They were sixth in runs, and Mookie Betts led the team with 24 homers, the fewest for the club leader since Tom Brunansky hit 15 in 1992.

New manager Alex Cora said he has hope that several players who are coming back from injuries or off-years will do better.

“This is a team that won 93 games,” he said. “I get it. You see the numbers. The power was down. I am confident with what we have right now.”

Dombrowski also pointed to a slow offseason market that still has more than 100 players available with less than a month to go before spring training, including hitters such as J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Logan Morrison and Mike Moustakas.

“The winter’s not done,” Dombrowski said.

As they were during the postseason, the Astros were big winners at the 79th annual Boston BBWAA dinner.

The Ted Williams Award for the top hitter in baseball went to second baseman Jose Altuve. Manager A.J. Hinch was named the chapter’s manager of the year in recognition of leading the team to its first World Series title. Astros outfielder and World Series MVP George Springer, a native of New Britain, Connecticut, was the New England player of the year.

The chapter’s highest honor, the Judge Emil Fuchs Memorial Award for long and meritorious service to baseball, was presented to former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield. Named for the former owner of the Boston Braves, the award has been given since 1959 to recipients such as Hank Aaron, Marvin Miller and Ernie Harwell.

The Tony Conigliaro Award for spirit, determination and courage, went to Rockies pitcher Chad Bettis, who threw seven scoreless innings in his return from cancer treatment and made nine starts for Colorado last season. The award for a player who overcomes adversity through “spirit, determination and courage” is named for the promising Red Sox outfielder whose career effectively ended after being hit by a pitch in the face in

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was the major league executive of the year.

Red Sox honors went to:

—Mookie Betts, MVP.

—Chris Sale, pitcher of the year.

—Andrew Benintendi, the Harry Agganis Memorial Award for Red Sox rookie of the year.

—Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Jensen Hustle Award for spirit and determination.

—Jackie Bradley, Jr., defensive player of the year.

—Robby Scott, Tim Wakefield Award for exemplary community service.

—Rafael Devers, Greg Montalbano minor league player of the year.

—Traveling secretary Jack McCormick, the Tommy McCarthy Memorial Good Guy Award.

—Sean McAdam, the Dave O’Hara Award for long and meritorious service to the chapter.