Ortiz thinking about home run drought ‘every day’
|05.12.09 at 9:44 pm ET|
ANAHEIM — Torii Hunter smiled a broad smile while sitting in front of his locker at Angel Stadium prior to his team’s game with the Red Sox, Tuesday night.
“If they don’t want him,” the LA outfielder said, “we’ll take him.”
The “him” Hunter was referring to was his longtime friend, Sox DH David Ortiz, who enters the three-game series with the Angels having gone 130 regular season at-bats without a home run, the second-longest stretch of his career. And judging by the session Ortiz held with the media prior to the series opener with the Angels, the slugger hasn’t actually been able to avoid thinking about the homerless stretch.
How often is he thinking about it?
“Every day,” said Ortiz when asked how often he thinks about going without a home run this season. “Every day. Sleeping. Eating. Having breakfast. (Going to the bathroom.) It’s bad.
“Just keep on working. It’s early. I’d like to do it from the very beginning, but I know things are going to get better.”
Ortiz said he received between 50 and 70 messages from friends following his game-winning double Sunday night, and spent an hour on the phone with with the Mets’ Carlos Delgado Monday. Besides being a friend of the Sox’ DH, Delgado also represents one of the best examples of how things can turn around, having hit .198 after the first month of the season in 2008, and .228 after the first two months.
“Delgado and I, we talked for like an hour. He was on his way to the park. Ryan Howard called me, ‘Hey, forget about it, that’s already in the past. You’re a great human being. You’re a great player.’ Sometimes when we pay attention to those comments, it doesn’t really happy. It seems like it’s fun for people to see you fail, but people have never put themselves in that situation, that’s why never have to pay attention to any of that. Go out and do your thing and have fun. Love yourself.’
“Delgado talked to me for like an hour. I’ve always been a huge fan of Delgado. When he was in the AL East, he always used to talk to me about things, and I would have questions for him. Last year when he ws going through all that, I was one of the guys really worried about his situation.
“People don’t know. Sometimes they think we just come here to play baseball and that’s it. We’re human beings like everyone else. We have things to worry about. Sotmes that gets in the way. It’s hard to have that free open mind you need to play this game. There’s no way you can play this game with a busy mind. No way. No way. Physically I am better than ever. I have no troubles physically. But sometimes this game gets in your head and you kind of get depressed for a minute. It can be for the situtoin you’re dealing with that won’t let you focus and people have no idea about that.”
The question regarding whether it is frustrating, or even embarrassing, was even asked of Ortiz, to which he responded, “Of course it doesn’t feel right. I’m a HR hitter. That’s one thing I’m not thinking about. HRs are going to come. When you look for them, they go far, far away. That’s one thing I got away from, then came back and got into it again. Normally, when I hit homers I don’t think about it. I just put a good swing on it and let the ball go.”
As for one of the causes for his struggles (he’s hitting .224) Ortiz explained that he got into some bad habits trying to catch up to inside fastballs and that carried over to this season.
“I’ve seen pitches to hit out,” Ortiz said. “I may have a mechanical problem, a bad habit I developed since I hurt my hand. That’s what I’ve been fighting since I got back last year. I feel like I can get to that inside fastball like I normally used to, so I hold my hand something different to get to that pitch. Now I’m fine, but I still have that leaking feeling that gets you away from what you normally do, which is driving the ball all over the place.
“I feel I’m working away form it. I believe in myself. Know I have four months and a half to figure my shit out. So I’ll do that.”
Another topic of conversation with Ortiz prior to the game was Manny Ramirez’ 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs, which the Red Sox No. 3 hitter said left him “confused”.
“His news has shocked me, because I remember when manny was here, the trainer would give him tylenol because he was sore or something and he would thorw it in the garbage,” Ortiz said of Ramirez. “He wouldn’t take it.”
Ortiz said he hasn’t talked with Ramirez, but does think that Manny might be best served if he speaks for himself, which, besides a prepared statement, hasn’t happened.
“This news here, he needs to speak out and let people know what’s up, so people understand,” Ortiz said, “because that’s another thing that gets people confused. He hasn’t said anything.”
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