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HOUSTON — David Ortiz has been fired-up lately.

The passion has been flowing.

Whether the topic is steroids, the Red Sox, or his career, Ortiz has something to say. He went 4 for 5 in the Sox’ 7-5 victory over the Astros Wednesday night, including a single to start the ninth-inning rally. Ortiz is now hitting .332 with 21 homers and 73 RBIs.

His hits have been hard. His outs have been hard. If it wasn’t for that darned shift, Ortiz likely would be hitting 20 points higher.

“I remember the early days in Tampa Bay we’d put a Joe Maddon shift on where we had four outfielders,” Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes said before the game. “I remember Aubrey Huff going out to be the fourth guy. We’re playing the Red Sox and Ortiz is up and he hits a home run to deep right. So much for the shift. What he’s doing right now is amazing. He’s on everything. What a hitter.”

Maybe Ortiz is playing with a chip on his shoulder.


He’s still angry about the dugout incident in Baltimore, when he tore up a telephone box and nearly decapitated Dustin Pedroia. Major League Baseball elected not to suspend Ortiz, but it did hit him with what a major league source called a “significant” fine. Ortiz revealed to the Globe that the fine was $5,000, and while that doesn’t sound like much to a $14 million-plus player, it’s high as far as fines go. Ortiz is appealing the fine.

“I have my agent handling it,” Ortiz said. “But it was a pretty high fine. I’ve never heard of anything like that for something I didn’t think I started.”

Ortiz watched Wednesday as Mike Napoli worked with both hitting coaches — Gregg Colbrunn and Victor Rodriguez — on trying to reduce his strikeouts. While Ortiz went 4 for 4 Tuesday night with Napoli hitting behind him, he has a specific interest in getting Napoli turned around.


“They were working on him using his top hand more to make more contact and reduce the strikeouts,” Ortiz said. “Mike has had a very good year driving in runs and coming up with big hits for us. We need him to be right and the best he can be. When he’s going good it helps everyone in the lineup.”

It helps Ortiz directly because there are very few games in which a pitcher gives Ortiz anything good to hit. He’s taken his walks, been patient about swinging at good pitches, but he knows to be completely effective he needs to see more pitches. And if the opposition knows Napoli is struggling, Ortiz is going to see fewer good pitches while pitchers challenge Napoli with the good stuff.

“I’ve hit my share of home runs,” said Ortiz, who after three at-bats Wednesday night had reached base in 10 consecutive plate appearances before he was retired in the seventh. “But as I get older I know my power isn’t what it used to be. That’s why I’m in the weight room four or five times a week just doing everything I can to stay strong and powerful.

“I know a lot of guys don’t do too many weights once the season starts, but I’ve been pushing myself to stay as strong as a I can because I know my game is power.”


Ortiz is thrilled about the condition of his troublesome heels.

“I’d say they’re fine, don’t even think about it anymore,” Ortiz said. “I can run hard now and there’s nothing in the back of my mind that I’m gonna pop something or anything like that. That was there in my head for a long time, but I never think about it. The heel feels good.”

Ortiz has had a lot to say about the Biogenesis case. He now believes that his fellow players should accept stiffer penalties and that he wouldn’t be against first-time offenders being banned for life.

He told WEEI.com Tuesday that to this day he has no idea what he tested positive for during the confidential random testing in 2003 that triggered the new penalties for PED use. He said because the evidence is sealed he hasn’t been able to find out what it was.

Ortiz has been blood-tested once for HGH in spring training and has submitted to several urine tests this season. He also said he was tested this past offseason. The Red Sox, in general, believe they have been one of the most-tested teams in baseball.

“Every game we’ve got five or six guys being tested after or before a game,” said one Sox veteran. “If a guy goes 4 for 4 or hits a couple of home runs, you can bet he’ll get tested right afterward.”

Interestingly, most players had only been tested for HGH in spring training. That differs from what the league and the union agreed upon last winter when they decided there would be year-round testing for the 2013 season.


As for the team, Ortiz loves what the Red Sox have done to have the best record in the American League.

On a team that has scored more runs (590) than any team in baseball, Ortiz wants to score more. He wished the team was better against lefthanded pitching and wished it had another power righthanded bat in the lineup. That was not addressed at the trading deadline.

The Red Sox still have time to find a righthanded hitter through waivers. If not, it likely will be addressed this offseason. But for now, Ortiz has no complaints. His health is good. He’s having one of the best seasons of any hitter in baseball.

He’s fired-up and, as the team’s best hitter, that can only be good for the Red Sox.

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.