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Reasons to not be alarmed by David Ortiz

03.15.10 at 9:16 am ET
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David Ortiz has faced left-handers 10 times out of his 21 plate appearances this spring. (AP)

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The questions have already come David Ortiz‘ way.

“Are you concerned about your slow start?”

His answer, while brief, did offer a dose of reality.

“I’ve never seen my spring training numbers on the back of a baseball card,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz’ current slump (1-for-21) may very well stretch in the season, but if you’re looking for some optimism here are three reasons why the alarms shouldn’t be sounded quite yet. (Update: Ortiz notched his second hit of the spring in the third inning of the Red Sox’ game with the Orioles, sending a two-run homer over the right field fence off righty Brad Bergeson):

HE HAS BEEN TINKERING

Listen to hitting coach Dave Magadan and you can get a clearer picture as to why the slugger might seem out of sorts.

“Obviously in his mind he would like to have some more base hits than he has, and I think he’s still trying to find the timing with the new stuff that he’s doing,” Magadan explained. “He’s been behind on a few pitches that when he’s going good he normally drives. I’m still really confident in the way he’s been looking. Batting practice, he’s stayed with the adjustments that he’s made. It’s just a matter of getting the timing in the games. Once he gets a few at-bats under his belt, gets his body adjusted to game speed, he’ll be fine.”

As to what kind of tweaks Ortiz has been experimenting with, the hitting coach said…

“Adjustments that he started to make the last couple of months of last season. Things that we talked about that I wanted to see him do in spring training. Stuff that we looked at last year. He looked at other players, he did that on his own. Just small things that he did. Stuff that he kind of scratched the surface on last year that when he showed up to spring training he was right where I wanted him to be. He’s been a little bit different over the last couple of years, so the timing of what he’s doing now he’s got to get used to the game timing. He’s putting on a show in batting practice, driving the ball the other way and in a real good balance. Now he’s just got to take it to the next step of taking to the game speed.”

A LOT OF LEFTIES

Last season Ortiz had 439 plate appearances against right-handers compared to 188 vs. lefties. Thus far this spring Ortiz has been subjected to 10 left-handers in 21 plate appearances. (His only hit has come against a righty.)

While facing left-handers is obviously inevitable for the designated hitter, it has led to some additional discomfort when trying to fine-tune his mechanics.

For what it’s worth, if the projected pitching rotations hold up the Red Sox will be facing two lefties out of their first nine games (against the Yankees, Royals, and Twins).

HE’S GETTING GOOD ADVICE

Who was that player Magadan was referencing when talking about other hitters he has been trying to emulate? Albert Pujols.

The two have known each other for a few years now and continue to be in constant communication, even through the offseason. Asked what Pujols does well that Ortiz attempts to bottle for himself, the slugger said, “Everything.”

“I can’t even explain Pujols,” Ortiz said. “I don’t look at his swing so much as I just try to get to know what he’s thinking. His eyes are really good. We talk about approach a lot. His mind-set is perfectly perfect.”

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