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Rangers may have been interested, but David Ortiz was locked into Red Sox

05.04.13 at 9:47 am ET
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With just more than 24 hours before any and all major league teams could talk contract with David Ortiz, the free agent designated hitter was getting a bit antsy.

He was secure in knowing that the Red Sox had strong interest in bringing him back, but the two sides still hadn’€™t agreed to terms and the window of exclusivity was closing.

Then word came down: another team, the Texas Rangers, would be willing to pony up a two-year deal for Ortiz once he hit the open market.

‘€œIt was probably true, but you couldn’€™t talk to anyone,’€ Ortiz said. ‘€œI didn’€™t know what it was going to be like (if he hit free agency).’€

Coincidental or not, the Red Sox came up just enough (what sources suggest was about $1.5 million) following news of the Rangers’€™ interest, sealing the deal moments before Ortiz could talk contract with the rest of baseball.

Still, the slugger now says that despite the perceived uncertainty, he didn’€™t have any doubts regarding what the end result would be.

‘€œNot for a minute,’€ Ortiz said when asked if he had entertained thoughts about playing elsewhere in ‘€™13. ‘€œI knew I was going to come back here. [The Red Sox] used an approach that was different than years before. I understood why. They had options before so you can take your time. But this time they knew I was going to be a free agent. They were approaching me (during the ‘€™12 season), even with me being injured. I knew that, so that’€™s why I wasn’€™t paying attention to too many things.’€

Without Ortiz, the Rangers moved on, first trying to re-sign Mike Napoli and then locking up Lance Berkman for a one-year, $11 million deal (with a club option for ‘€™14).

Berkman has worked out thus far, hitting .305 with an .892 OPS and two home runs. And while the Red Sox’€™ DH position is far and away tops in the American League with a 1.109 overall OPS, the Rangers’€™ .813 OPS at the position is certainly palatable.

Ortiz said that while this time around he was fairly locked into re-joining the Red Sox, there have been moments over the past few years when thoughts of playing elsewhere crossed his mind.

‘€œHave I put myself in the situation where I thought I wasn’€™t going to be here, 100 percent? No,’€ he said. ‘€œI knew this time I had the percentage in my favor, and they showed they wanted me to come back way before the season was over.

‘€œBut I did have doubts once. When [former general manager] Theo [Epstein] was here and they had to pick up my option the first time (after the ‘€™11 season), I thought it was going to be something else because they were approaching me with different things at that time. I couldn’€™t understand. But I ended up coming back.’€

Now Ortiz is settled into his two-year deal, which can pay him up to $30 million. For the first time in the past few years, talks of contract aren’€™t part of the daily thought process. For the DH, it’€™s a welcome change.

‘€œI’€™m not thinking of any of that. I’€™m just thinking of raking. I don’€™t have any regrets, any hard feels or anything,’€ he said.

‘€œThere are a lot of people hoping you have a down year, and say you’€™re getting older. But those people don’€™t realize they still don’€™t pitch to me, and when they do pitch to me I do what I need to do. It’€™s not about how old you get, or how people think. It’€™s about how hard you work and what kind of approach you have.

‘€œThat’€™s why last year when I said, ‘€˜I want two years so I don’€™t have to think about my contract,’€™ a lot of people got the wrong idea. They thought I was going to chill, sit back and not do anything. That ain’€™t me. I like to earn my money. I like to work for it, and as long as I’€™ve been here that’€™s what I’€™ve been doing. I wasn’€™t going to change. What for? I love the game. I love beating up on the opposition. I love the pain on their face. So why should I stop?’€

Read More: David Ortiz, Rangers, Red Sox,
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