David Ortiz climbed on the chair in front of his locker on Wednesday afternoon shortly after the Red Sox’ game against the Tampa Bay Rays was postponed.
After getting the attention of his teammates, he told them to get out of Fenway Park and go home to rest up for Thursday’s doubleheader.
Ortiz then pulled on a white down vest and took his own advice. He seemed almost relieved there was no game after the frigid conditions the teams played in on Tuesday.
“I’ve never been that cold,” Big Papi said. “I had a single and I swear I left one of my fingers at the plate.”
Ortiz is hitting a modest .250 with five home runs and 14 RBIs for the 13-14 Red Sox. But he believes better times are ahead for he and the team.
“This first month, it was one of those months where a lot of things happened,” Ortiz said. “But I think we’re OK. I don’t think we were that bad. It could be worse. When you look at this division, everybody is in the same boat.”
The Red Sox are 2½ games behind the first-place Yankees with 83 percent of the season left to play. As Ortiz said, it could be worse.
“April is always a tough month. You have to deal with a lot of things,” Ortiz said. “You have to deal with the new faces; you have to deal with the weather; you have to deal with players coming from other leagues. There are a lot of things you have to make adjustments for. I always call April the month of adjustments.
“I think it’s early, especially with the way this division has been. Things have been going back and forth.”
The Sox have won three of four and eight of their last 13 games. Ortiz believes that level of play can continue as Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and A.J. Pierzynski get increasingly comfortable. Bogaerts and Bradley are rookies and Pierzynski is the team’s new catcher.
“We have two young talented players that are learning. This game is a learning process,” Ortiz said. “I know it’s going to get better because they’re very talented and they’re making their adjustments. That normally happens.
“In Pierzynski’s case, he’s been outstanding. He’s a good catcher, man. There’s a reason he’s been around for so long and been a starting catcher everywhere he goes. He knows how to call games, he knows how to keep his ground covered, and he’s a good hitter. That’s a combination that is hard to find. Good catcher with a good bat. He’s one of them.”
Ortiz hit .309 last season with a .959 OPS. Getting back to that level, he predicted, is a matter of time.
“I’m OK,” he said. “You have to go back to the old pages and be a little bit more patient. It’s very obvious that everybody likes to pitch around me and try to get me chasing pitches out of the strike zone. But I know how to do that.”
The 38-year-old Ortiz has 378 home runs with the Red Sox, one shy of matching Dwight Evans for fourth place in team history. He needs five to pass Jim Rice for third place. As seemingly each day passes, Ortiz adds to the bold print of his career.
“It’s great, man. You’re talking about some of the greatest players that every played here,” Ortiz said. “Your name gets mentions with those players, it’s an honor. In my case, I just keep on playing the game and try to keep on winning and whatever happens happens.”
Ortiz is signed through the 2015 season with team options for two years beyond that.
“I’m going to keep playing as long as I can keep doing my thing,” he said. “The contract talk is not going to be there much longer. If I’m playing, I’ve got a contract. If I’m not playing, I go home.”
Ortiz is not yet satisfied with the effort of the team.
“There’s a way that we have to continue to climb and get better,” he said.
Better weather would help.
“Mother Nature, what’s going on? It will go away. It’ll probably be a week before we go into baseball weather,” he said. “The weather heat up, Papi heat up.
“I hit a ball [Tuesday] night, I feel like I want to cry. It was so cold, man. But it is what it is. You don’t want to use the weather as an excuse but it is an excuse because you don’t play the same way in the cold weather. We’re going to get there.”