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Ortiz: ‘There’s 160 [expletive] games left’

04.07.10 at 12:11 am ET
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Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, after going hitless with a walk in his first eight plate appearances of the season, expressed profane displeasure with questions about whether there are grounds for concern after just two games of the season.

“Two [expletive] games already. [Expletives] are going crazy. What’€™s up with that, man?” Ortiz mused. “There’€™s [expletive] 160 games left. Y’all [expletives] go ahead and hit for me.”

Ortiz, of course, faces heightened scrutiny this season, following a year in which he hit .238 with a .794 OPS (while hitting 28 homers and driving in 99 runs). Though he finished the season with solid marks of .264/.356/.548/.904, 27 homers and 81 RBIs from June 1 through the end of the season, memories of his .185/.284/.287/.570 line over the first two months of the year linger.

Ortiz also struggled against lefties, hitting .212 with a .716 OPS last year against southpaws. That led to some curiosity about whether Sox manager Terry Francona might pinch-hit for him when the Yankees summoned left-hander Damaso Marte to face Ortiz with a runner on second and none out in a game that the Sox trailed, 5-4, in the bottom of the eighth. Francona elected not to turn to Mike Lowell (who hit .301 with an .867 OPS against lefties last year) as a pinch-hitter, and Ortiz flied to shallow center.

The Sox manager clarified that it was too early in the season either to pinch-hit for Ortiz or to judge his season based on a relatively short-lived oh-fer.

“Two games, if guys go 0-for-4 or 3-for-4, it’s not going to make or break the season. It would be nice to get him on track though,” said Francona. “With two games into the season, I don’t think we need to start [pinch-hitting], not because I don’t think [Lowell] couldn’t do it, but just because I think the big picture needs to be remembered.”

Towards that end, it is worth considering some of Ortiz’ recent starts:

–In 2009, he was 2-for-6 with two walks, a .333 average and .833 OPS after two games before commencing his downward spiral with an 0-for-3 in the third game of the year.

–In 2008, he was 0-for-7 with two walks in his first two games. He was hitting .111 with a .381 OPS after 11 games before going 2-for-4 with a homer and 5 RBI in the 18th game of the year. From that game until he injured his wrist on the final day of May, he hit .313 with a 1.034 OPS.

–In 2007, he was 1-for-6 with a double and two walks, a .167 average and .778 OPS after two games. He went on to finish the year with his highest OPS (1.066).

Unsurprisingly, then, it has been the case that the first two games of the year have been fairly meaningless predictors of Ortiz’ performance over subsequent months. For that reason, both he and the Sox insist that any conclusions based on his first two games against the Yankees would be premature.

“Well, if David comes out and hits two homers tomorrow and goes 4-for-4, then he’€™s probably back to hitting .300. Tomorrow’€™s another day,” said Kevin Youkilis. “We’€™ll worry at 100. I’€™m not worried about David.”

Read More: damaso marte, David Ortiz, pinch hit, Terry Francona
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