Ortiz gets his just reward
|06.07.09 at 12:18 am ET|
Maybe Julio Lugo was onto something when he told reporters before Saturday’s game that it was just a matter of time before David Ortiz makes his critics eat their words.
“He’s good, he’s still good,” said Lugo, someone not unfamiliar to struggles of his own. “He’s just in a slump and you know, he’s going to find it. All those people talking bad about him, they’re going to keep clapping. 2004 World Series, wouldn’t be here without Big Papi. 2007 World Series, wouldn’t be without Big Papi.
“Now, everybody is killing him, it’s not fair, man. All those people on TV talking bad about him, that’s bull-beep.”
Ortiz, who lockers a mere 15 feet away from Lugo in the Red Sox clubhouse, might as well have been in the group of reporters because he went out Saturday and had his best day since being dropped into the No. 6 spot in Terry Francona’s batting order.
He went 2-for-3 with a walk and his second homer of the season in Boston’s 8-1 laugher over the Texas Rangers at Fenway Park. Ortiz reached base three times for just the sixth time this season.
All those line drives that found gloves on the road trip were finding holes in fair territory on Saturday night.
“That’s how you getting back to hitting balls and start hitting well, put a good swing on a ball,” Ortiz said. “Even though you don’t get the good luck, it will come.”
The line drive homer to right off Kris Benson in the sixth came on a 2-1 pitch. Ortiz used some good old-fashioned body English on it as he leaned.
“I was leaning, leaning heavy to one side,” Ortiz admitted. “But I hit the ball good, real good. I can feel it coming.”
There was something else waiting for him in the dugout – another curtain call – as Terry Francona grabbed him and got him on the front step of the dugout to acknowledge the grateful crowd.
All of those cheers and well wishes helped ease the pain of a foul ball he took off the arch of his right foot in the second inning, a bruise that made putting on his sock and right shoe anything but ordinary afterward.
“I’ll feel it tomorrow,” Ortiz said with a smile. But the good news is he didn’t limp out of the clubhouse.
Ortiz singled sharply through the shift on the next pitch after that painful foul for the first of two hits.
“Tonight, he hooks around the pole and that’s certainly not the longest home run of his career but we’re always looking for positives,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “After he hit that ball off his foot, he got to a good pitch and he hit it hard. We’re looking for positives and his energy tonight was good. When he rounded first, that’s a good sign. When you see him running around like that, I think it creates positive energy.”
Entering Saturday night, he was batting just .188 with a two-run homer and just 24 RBI on the season. But his teammates have seen good signs for the last two weeks from “Big Papi,” like line drives to all fields.
“He’s tried this, he’s tried that,” said Jason Bay. “I think you just get a couple of good breaks here and there and it helps you relax a little bit more. He seems to me, anyway, a little bit more comfortable. It’s a feel thing. We haven’t seen the best but over the last three or four days, the at-bats have been great and he’s a big part of our offense.”
“He has been (close),” added Jason Varitek. “Over this past road trip, he hit two balls hard a game and not necessarily get a hit from it. Results don’t always tell the process of what’s going on.”
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