Monday, March 28, 2016
David Ortiz Bids Farewell to Fort Myers
David Americo Arias Ortiz has made it clear that he will play baseball in 2016, and no longer. With that in mind, the powers-that-be in the offices of baseball have decided that they provide “Big Papi” with a victory lap around the track. As he plays his way through the stadia of the Major Leagues this summer, he will be inundated with gifts. And rightfully so.
He broke into the major leagues with the Minnesota Twins in 1997. He spent six years with the Twins before heading to Boston, at the suggestion of a fellow Dominican, Pedro Martinez. (At the sound of that name, many of you Montreal Expo fans can feel slight heart palpitations!) He continued his impressive career in 2003 in Boston. He is completing his twentieth Spring Training campaign, all spent in Fort Myers. Incidentally, he has no love for Spring Training!
One of the most remarkable statistics about the big guy is the his batting average in his World Series games is a remarkable .455. In other words, when it was all on the line, Big Papi could rip the ball and get on base. Quite often he batted against an exaggerated shift: teams put three infielders between first and second base, and left the area between second and third unguarded. Ortiz has never been able to take advantage of the shift by tapping balls into open spaces. With him, it's success by power.
He now has more than 500 home runs, and stands 27th on the list of players from all time. He stands 19th on the Extra Base hits list, and 18th for doubles. Mind you, he has whiffed a few times as well, 34th on that list. There is no doubt that he will be given serious consideration for the Hall of Fame when the time comes. There were whispers of the usage of performance enhancing drugs related to the big guy. I will leave determinations in that regard up to the voters.
Ortiz has indicated that he would rather not receive all of the goodies that are destined to come his way. He would prefer that gifts be donated to his foundation. He has earned the love of the Red Sox Nation with innumerable good deeds. He is revered by his teammates.
He batted in the cleanup spot today, in the final spring game for the Bosox in Fort Myers. He entered the game batting .188. He flied out to right field twice, and struck out. Near the end of the game, a golf cart picked him up at his dugout, and delivered him to the clubhouse. He tipped his cap to the adoring fans.
Before the game, he was presented with seats from the three stadia in which he played in Fort Myers: Hammond Field, City of Palms Park, and Jet Blue Stadium, Fenway South. One of the roads in the park has been renamed “David Ortiz Way”. After he had received the gifts, he smiled that broad, gap-toothed smile, spoke briefly. He cut the nonsense with a terse, “Let's Play Ball!”
The Red Sox will conclude their pre-season work with a couple of games in Montreal against the Jays, the first two days of April. Then, on April 4th, they open the regular season in Cleveland. I would not expect the Jays will see David Price. They certainly will later on in the season. That's baseball, folks.
March 28, 2016.