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Why David Ortiz is loving Adrian Gonzalez on the Red Sox

02.17.11 at 5:55 pm ET
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FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz was among those hooting and hollering when the Red Sox pulled off the December blockbuster that landed Adrian Gonzalez in Boston.

Why?

“It’ll be crazy for the pitchers, how they can focus on the lineup like that,” Ortiz said. “You have a lot of good hitters, one behind the other. I don’t think I’m going to be the guy that people are going to have to worry about now.”

Ortiz recalled last year after precisely two games when reporters were asking if he was concerned about going 0-for-7 in the opening two tilts against the Yankees.

“I’m not going to let that get into my head like last year,” he said. “I know I can go 0-for-20 or 3-for-20. It’s just a game. Last year, I kind of snapped a little bit at the beginning of the season and it was because I didn’t think it was fair after the second game of the year people having the doubt [about] you. I guess that is part of the game but I’m not planning on going through that again. I’m going to try my best as I always do and whatever happens, happens.”

With the addition of Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, he hopes to avoid another dismal April. He and Jon Lester know they both start slow and Ortiz is still trying to change that trend, especially that of the last two seasons.

“I think all I need to do is not think about it,” Ortiz said of his .143 average in April 2010, with one homer and four RBIs. “A Good start guarantees a good end. I’ll probably play more in spring training than I normally do. I think this offense can do some damage.”

The year before, Ortiz hit marginally better (.230) but failed to hit a single homer and had just 12 RBIs.

No doubt Ortiz was paying attention when reports came out Thursday that the Red Sox have taken care of Gonzalez to the tune of $164 million over seven years, which should be finalized after a check-up on his surgically-repaired right shoulder and after Opening Day to save $4 million in luxury tax.

But Ortiz Thursday said forget the money for a moment. The real value to him is having another great hitter in the lineup to protect him and share ideas.

“My game got better because I was watching hitters like Manny, Nomar, those guys, great hitters, the best in the game at the time and I always had questions to ask and still. I love Gonzalez’s approach and I really believe he’s going to do a lot of damage. He’s a smart hitter. He won’t change anything. He will just stay still and slow things down.

“I watch a lot of San Diego games and as a player you have a different view of the game than as a fan. I’ve watched this guy hitting before and sometimes pitchers make pitches on him and you would think as a hitter that that pitch would change his approach and the guy stays with the same approach he had before that pitch and that’s when you see that guys get to be more successful more often. I will always have questions to ask great hitters like him and CC.”

CC, of course, is Carl Crawford – the other new offensive force this season.

“When we were in the outfield talking, Youk, CC, [Gonzalez] and myself, CC came out and said, ‘I have a whole bunch of questions to ask about the game.’ We were like, ‘What’s that?’ The communication between the teammates about the game, that’s pretty much the number one key for a team to be successful.”

Ortiz doesn’t mind sharing the spotlight. As a matter of fact, he is welcoming it.

“I don’t mind being under the radar,” he said. “I’m part of this team and I’ve been here for years and things are going to happen, things are going to go back and forth, you just have to keep your cool. I really believe that those guys, the [pressure] is going to be on top of them and they shouldn’t put that pressure on them and just go through the game like they normally do because they are going to be here for years.”

Ortiz is fully aware that any discussion about the expectations for these 2011 Red Sox begins and ends with the words “World Series” and he admitted as much Thursday.

“I know everybody have a lot of expectations,” he said. “But this game is not all about expectations. It’s all about executing. We need to execute. There are a lot of things that a good team needs to work on besides just focusing on the big contracts and the good players that we got and things like that. You’ve got to focus on the day-to-day things, how everybody [works] on field as a group, how the chemistry is working on the team.

“Because I’ve seen a lot of things with a lot of superstars because everybody is on their own. That’s not something that happens here in this organization. I hope we stay healthy through the season, the good thing about this organization is that everybody that comes from the outside adjusts themselves to whatever is going on here.”

But still, he said, acknowledging the obvious, “There’s only one World Series so if you win it, you go home happy, right?”

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, carl crawford, David Ortiz
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