SEATTLE — David Ortiz couldn’t take the noise any longer.
On Twitter, in the papers, on TV, on talk radio. He heard all the negativity directed at him and it bothered him. So on the day Major League Baseball made a scoring change to give Ortiz a hit for a June 18 game, Ortiz accepted the extra points on his batting average and apologized to those he offended for causing a flap over the initial ruling by Fenway scorekeeper Bob Ellis.
“I owe an apology to MLB, [league vice president of baseball operations] Joe Torre, the scorekeeper,” Ortiz said prior to Monday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners. “There’s been a lot of frustration this year and it’s frustrating when things get that way. You don’t want the message spread out that way. I didn’t do that right.”
Ortiz always figured the ruling would be changed in his favor after the appeal process, but when he lashed out against Ellis and then got publicly reprimanded by Torre for being disrespectful to scorers, Ortiz felt the heat from fans.
Three innings after his tantrum, Ortiz hit a 10th-inning home run as the Red Sox beat the Twins, 2-1. And on Sunday he homered again in the 10th to give Boston a 7-6 win over Oakland.
Told that he had answered his critics, Ortiz just laughed and said, “I guess so. But that’s my job. To do big things when they count the most.
“It’s been frustrating sometimes this season. I haven’t hit the way I’ve wanted. I feel it’s coming. I feel I’ve still been able to get some big hits, but it hasn’t been consistent.
“I just don’t want to be in the eye of the hurricane all the time. Every time I say something, it’s like, what’s next? How are people going to react now. At the end of the day it wasn’t right what I did.
“I saw TV shows and people talking about me and going crazy about it. It’s a little too much sometime.
“I think a guy like myself, [whenever] I do something it causes attention. They deserve an apology from me the way I showed my emotions that day. I shouldn’t have answered the way I did.”
Ortiz is on his way to another 30/100 season with 17 homers and 45 RBIs entering Monday.
Just prior to issuing his apology he was reminiscing about Edgar Martinez, the great Mariners DH who some believe should be in the Hall of Fame.
Ortiz and Martinez are probably the two greatest DHs of all time.
Martinez was well on his way to stardom when a young Ortiz, then known David Arias, was starting out in the Mariners’ farm system.
Who would have thought that they would wind up where they are today?
How do they compare?
Martinez played 18 years in the majors.
This is Ortiz’s 18th season.
Martinez played in 2,055 games, totaling 2,247 hits, 514 doubles, 309 homers, 1,261 RBIs, and 3,718 total bases. He was a .312 career hitter with a .418 on-base percentage and .515 slugging percentage (.933 OPS).
Ortiz has played in 2,043 games, totaling 2,090 hits, 530 doubles, 448 homers, 1,474 RBIs, and 4,000 total bases. There’s also a .285 career average, .380 OBP, and .546 slugging (.926 OPS).
There are many who believe Martinez, who spent his entire career in Seattle until he retired at age 41, was one of the greatest righthanded hitters of his day. Right up there with Manny Ramirez and Albert Pujols.
Ortiz, 38, who was traded by the Mariners to Minnesota as a player to be named, also has Hall of Fame credentials, outstanding postseason numbers, and three championships.
“I was a young kid and I’d see him in spring training and he was such a wonderful man who tried to help everybody. He was the greatest DH and I was just another DH who put up great numbers. He was special. The way he hit was something unbelievable,” Ortiz recalled.
“I’m more of a power hitter than what he used to be. He was an extraordinary hitter who put the ball in play and did things as a righthanded hitter that were pretty amazing. If I had that ability I’d probably hit more for average. It’s hard to accomplish both, but Edgar did it.”
Ortiz could have talked about Martinez all day. Those are the things Ortiz would prefer to discuss rather than having to apologize for outbursts that stem from being an emotional player.
“It’s crazy that anyone would ever think [Ortiz] is selfish,” said one Red Sox teammate. “Imagine after all the years here and everything he’s done, he actually has to answer to that crap? I guess when the team isn’t having a good year everyone turns on you. The nature of this area, I guess.”
Ortiz knows more than anyone, the Boston fan base doesn’t like complainers. You can win three championships and be one of the greatest clutch hitters in team history and baseball history, but if you don’t do it quietly you’re categorized.
“I just want to put it behind me,” Ortiz said. “I hope everyone else can too. I just want to go out there and do my job and try to turn this around.
“We have three tough games here. They have good pitching. So we have to be smart up there. We can’t let this stuff get to us. Our attention has to be on the field.”Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.