David Ortiz credited Dan Dyrek with helping save his career. (Getty Images)
One of the key figures from the 2016 Red Sox season is leaving the organization.
WEEI.com has learned that Dan Dyrek, who has been the team’s coordinator of sports medicine service since after the 2012 season, will not be returning for 2017. The 63-year-old had asked the Red Sox not to extend him a contract offer at the completion of the ’16 season, having his term coincide with the completion of David Ortiz’s retirement.
One of the most well-respected physical therapists in all of sports, Dyrek’s key contribution since assuming his role with the Red Sox involved Ortiz. He was credited by both the player and the organization as perhaps the most important element in keeping the designated hitter on the field after Ortiz suffered a career-threatening heel injury in 2012.
Dyrek’s presence was deemed so important by the slugger that Ortiz requested ownership allow the physical therapist to travel with the team for all road games over the last few months.
“Huge. Huge,” said Ortiz when asked about the importance of Dyrek. “When he’s not around I’m not feeling comfortable. My feet hurt when he’s not around, more than usual. I swear.
“He started traveling everywhere because everybody wanted a piece of him. But this last month I told the owner we need him around 24-7 [24 hours a day, 7 days a week] because he’s incredible.”
Ortiz went so far as to say he most likely would have have retired before 2016 if not for Dyrek.
“Probably. Probably, because I was in so much pain,” Ortiz told WEEI.com when if he would have previously called it quits if Dyrek didn’t join the club. “All the treatments and all the stuff I’ve followed up with him, it has been right on. He tells me how my feet are going to feel.”
Ortiz wasn’t the first Boston sports icon who had Dyrek help prolong their career, with Larry Bird crediting the former collegiate swimmer in allowing him to play long enough to participate in the 1992 Summer Olympics with the first “Dream Team” in Barcelona.
Dyrek will continue his clinical practice by assisting Bird’s Indiana Pacers, and consulting with teams and pro athletes nationally and internationally.