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David Ortiz reflects on milestone night, career with Red Sox

08.17.14 at 10:10 am ET
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There aren’t many players in major league history that can categorize themselves with Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski. Just the idea of someone doing so would seem blasphemous to most Red Sox fans.

David Ortiz, however, is a rare exception. And he verified that with another landmark night on Saturday.

The slugger launched home runs No. 400 and 401 in a Red Sox uniform in a six RBI showcase against the Astros, becoming just the third player in club history to reach that mark.

The other two players to reach that milestone? Williams (521 home runs) and Yastrzemski (452).

“It’s an honor to be up there mentioned with those legends,” Ortiz said after his 3-for-5 night that led the Sox to a 10-7 win. “You’re not expecting to be mentioned with those guys.”

Red Sox manager John Farrell said what’s most impressive about Ortiz’s accomplishment is the pace in which he did it. Ortiz is in the midst of his 12th season with the Sox and reached the 400 home run mark in the third inning of career game No. 1,630.

Williams reached that plateau in the middle of his 15th season. Yastrzemski in his 19th.

“When you consider how many fewer games he’s done it in is really remarkable,” Farrell said. “He’s in rare company with the two other guys he’s now linked to. To see it in roughly 60 percent of the games with one and almost half the games of the other. It’s amazing what he’s been able to do here.”

Ortiz said that he didn’t know how close he was to the achievement before the game. But by the time his curtain call was through after his two-run double in the eighth, Ortiz recognized the significance of his night.

“You don’t play the game to think about personal numbers, you play the game to do it right,” he said. “Whatever you accomplish is a plus.”

Ortiz reflected briefly on his journey with the Red Sox, which has included three World Series titles and some unforgettable home runs.

Ortiz came to Boston in 2003 as a 27-year-old still searching for his stroke. At that time, it was Ortiz who was looking for a role model. He named some of the high-profile players on that 2003 squad, including Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek and Manny Ramirez, nodding his head toward different lockers throughout the clubhouse as if they were stationed there now, and identified their role in shaping him as a player.

“I was a guy that was always searching for ideas, how to get my game better,” Ortiz said. “You watch the guys that work at it at the time and it was unbelievable.”

Ortiz didn’t know what to expect back then. One thing he said never would’ve expected was to some day be mentioned in the same breath as a pair of Sox icons.

“You play the game and just go with the flow, because you don’t know how long you’re going to play,” he said. “You don’t know what your career is going to be like.”

When asked if the next milestone he’s eyeing is career home run No. 500, which he’s 41 blasts away from, Ortiz offered a grin and said, “We’ll see.”

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