|Ortiz on The Big Show: ‘We’ll be fine’ toward end of season||07.27.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz joined The Big Show on Tuesday afternoon to discuss his many critics this season and last, what value he has set for himself in the league, and how the team will fare once it gets fully healthy.
Said Ortiz: “People don’t understand sometimes that it hurts, when you do nothing but work your butt off every day trying to get a team to win, and people already want to watch you retire.”
Following is a transcript of the interview. To hear the full interview visit The Big Show audio on demand page.
Why did you have difficulty last season getting on track?
I guess sometimes it’s just how things are going to be. Sometimes it’s part of the game, sometimes it’s that you have to figure things out. The one thing I really worried about is finishing good. Of course, everybody wants to start good and finish good. Some people start on fire and the next thing you know you never heard of them. Some people start slow, and then at the end of the season their name is the only thing you heard about. Everybody is different. The one thing I always say that kind of picks me up was when people give up on you in the first month of the season.
Do you have look at the next two years and approach the game differently?
I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard for me during the season to pull myself together for a whole bunch of different reasons. I just keep on working, and get where I need to be.
Does it help to not worry about everything going on around you?
You know, what people don’t realize is that [Ortiz] sees at least six pitches per at-bat. The pitchers, they try to get me to hit their pitches, before they even try and give me something to hit because they know what can happen. I need to figure things out on my own. It’s not like I can send somebody else to hit for me, or having someone tell me what to hit; it doesn’t work like that. I have to figure things out, see what the pitchers going to work me with, and then I have to move on and try to do my thing. You put work into it, and then at the end of the season you see the results, you see what happens. Everybody keeps talking to me about my first two months last year in April this year. But in April this year, what was closer was the last four months of last year. What was the point? The point was they doubt and they doubt. “OK, if he starts slow like last year what is going to happen?” You know, and then your putting pressure on me, your putting pressure on my manager, your putting pressure on everyone. It’s pressure coming from all over the place, and I think the best thing about the whole situation is, let me play. Let me play, let me do my thing, whatever happens, happens.
I think people were supportive of you on the whole.
I never said the fans turned their back on me. The fans, they are my No. 1 supporter since Day 1. But you earn that, remember that. It’s not something like, “Oh, David Ortiz is coming from Japan because he got paid tons of money.” He earned the fact that the fans are going to be supportive to him no matter what. David Ortiz got here, he did what he was supposed to do, and that’s how you earn things from the fans. Don’t take me wrong, the fans have always been supportive. Now, everything starts with reporters. The reporters have been the problem here in Boston. That’s why you see players say they don’t want to come play here, it’s because of the fact they had to deal with reporters. They have to deal with this one guy, just because you had a bad week, is throwing you down. And putting in people’s minds that you can’t play any more, you’re over with, you’re this, you’re that. I heard that every day. I’m not a guy that likes to put attention to any of that. But, it was in the news every day. … I work hard every day to do my thing, and that’s when you’re going to get good results. I’m not a guy, just because someone is saying negative stuff, I’m just going to shut it down. That isn’t me. I work, I fight back my whole life being tough.
Did you use the negativity as fuel when you were struggling in April?
Well, you have to. I got a trophy for Player of the Month, I hang it on top of my locker. For all of you guys that thought I was done, see what that says every day. I don’t want to sound cranky or I don’t want to sound like I’m a bad guy, because everybody knows Papi in all of New England. People don’t understand sometimes that it hurts, when you do nothing but work your butt off every day trying to get a team to win, and people already want to watch you retire.
I think the media in this town was easy on you when you were struggling.
Let me make this other point clear. I’m not saying all of the media. Because there’s a group of guys that walk into our room every day, those guys want you to do good. Those guys want you to do good things on the field and that have good things to talk about. I’m not talking about every single one. Those guys are pulling for you, those guys want you to do good, you rarely heart those guys making bad comments about you. I know who those guys are. On the other hand, there’s another group of guys, a big group of guys, basically the way it’s done is, they want to see you going down.
Look, I don’t really care about this. I will stop playing baseball one day, I’m not going to do this my whole life. I know that one day I’m going to have to hang it up. But, the one thing I agree with is that if you want to get respect back, you’ve got to respect. I’m nobody to go to WEEI and say, “You need to retire,” just because I don’t think you can do the job anymore. I don’t play that. You work [hard] to do what you want to do, or to be who you want to be, and you finish that whenever you want to finish. People in this game believe they have everything figured out. … This game is hard to figure out. Look at how many guys have pitched no-hitters. Look at how many guys are pitching shutout games. Look at how many guys are throwing one-run games. It’s how the game goes.
Everything is scrutinized more in this town. At the same time, you cannot find much more support than this town.
When I first came to Fenway to play baseball for the Red Sox, my first week playing baseball in Boston I figured one thing out: I was going to love playing in Boston. It’s because of the feeling you get from the fans. That’s always been my No. 1 priority. The same feeling that you get when you play at Fenway Park for the Red Sox is the same feeling I got growing up playing for [the Dominican Republic]. If you go and watch winter ball games, you better bring your A-game. What I don’t agree with is that a guy, who tries hard out there to play the game the right way, gets criticized by people just because he’s struggling. I don’t agree with that. I understand that you might say, “Well, Big Papi, he was doing this, now he’s doing that.” I don’t agree with people saying Big Papi should retire because of the fact that he’s 34 years old and he can’t hit no more, he can’t catch up on fastball no more. [Monday night] I hit a 97 mile per hour fastball out of the park. I don’t know if you remember but people were saying that I couldn’t catch up on a fastball anymore. How did that happen?
Going into the Home Run Derby, did you want to prove you still had the power?
I don’t need to show nobody that. I’ve been hitting balls my whole career. If you don’t believe that at this point in my career that I can go deep, you better buy some glasses and put them on. Let me tell you, I work everyday. At one point, things happen, you aren’t catching up with what you have to. But you can see that, it’s not something that somebody just woke and said, “He can’t do it anymore.”
Would you be disappointed if you didn’t have a conversation regarding a multi-year extension?
I haven’t talked to nobody about that. It’s just something we’re going to talk about at the end of the season. But like I say, I’m a guy that has done a lot of good things around here, probably some bad things. But, my main thing is, as long as I wear a uniform, things go well, I try my best. If I play three or four more years to get it done I would like to do it here. I don’t feel comfortable just staying here for another year. I can see how everything has been going on for the last year on my deal. It’s a lot of craziness, it’s a lot of talk, when you cool off or get hot, when you do this or do that. I’m not that kind of player. I like to be left alone. In the game, I know what to do. i know how to get my game better, and the only thing i do is work, work, work, and work everyday. That’s my backup plan, and like I said I want to stick around, and it’s going to be up to [the Red Sox].
Looking at other guys in your position, it doesn’t look like many DHs are getting a ton of money.
Well, that’s something I can’t really talk to you about. Like I said, those guys that you’re talking about [Vladimir Guerrero, etc.] they have been out almost a year. They have been injured, they have been on the disabled list plenty of times. You’re going to tell me that, if [Guerrero] played all year round, like he normal does, you’re not going to be making that money? Of course he will, because he’s that kind of hitter. What Vlad is doing right now is what he normally does. But he was out pretty much all of last year with injuries, and that’s the reason why I believe [Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim] didn’t sign him back. There aren’t that many DHs out there, like true DHs, to tell you the truth. There was a few on the market. [Hideki] Matsui wasn’t a real DH, he was a left fielder until he had bad knees and everybody believed that he was a DH. Vlad wasn’t a DH, he was an outfielder, and he still can play outfield. But other than that what else?
With this current team, is there enough offense to make the postseason?
I think our regular lineup is one of the best lineups all the way around the majors. You can see the numbers before everyone went down. Before everyone went down you can see how we were producing. When our lineup is healthy, it’s something different. I’m pretty sure we are a few weeks away from having a full lineup, and I think we’re going to be just fine.
You don’t think the team needs another bat?
Like I always say, health is always going to be a help. If our GM or front office, they believe we need some help, go and get them. I think we needed some help a month ago, when everyone went down. I thought we were going to make a move and we didn’t. When we have our opening day lineup, when we get it together like it was, it’s on baby.
Do you have the feeling that when fully healthy, the team is all set?
Well, that’s the way you have to see it because making a move, going and getting some other player, it’s not an easy thing to do. It’s easy for us to see it from here. But for [Theo Epstein] and everyone in the front office, it’s not an easy move to make because that’s a lot of things you have to move around. I think our front office is smart enough to know what we need to compete and to win. Especially in our division with teams like the Yankees and Tampa, wining they way they are. They have to get to the point where we challenge, and they know that. That’s something we don’t need to talk about. … I think we’ll be fine, it’s just those injuries that caught up with us five, six weeks ago, you see how we have been fighting through it. You can see the difference with those guys in the lineup. We are weeks, days away from having everybody. And we’re going to have another six, seven weeks where we can put some good games together, and we’ll see what happens at the end of the season.
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