Q & A: A candid conversation with David Ortiz
As spring training started to wind down, David Ortiz sat with the Globe’s Red Sox beat writer Peter Abraham for a Q&A on baseball and other topics. Questions were solicited from other Globe writers, readers, and a few teammates.
Who is a current player you admire?
“I like everybody, I’m not picky. I love my teammates; can I just say that? But if there is a player right now who I think is amazing, it’s Torii Hunter. We got together the other day and talked and I’m jealous of him. We go way back. He looks like he is still 20 and I got older. It’s unbelievable. He can play another 10 years.”
Who is your favorite player of all time?
“When I was a kid my favorite player was Kirby Puckett. But once I started playing professional baseball, Mo Vaughn was the guy. I loved watching him hit. I wanted to be that kind of hitter. I liked watching that guy play.”
What is your favorite city on the road?
“Every city has something different. I like to visit New York, but only in the offseason. Not during the season. During the season there is not much you can do. The game ends late, you go get your rest in and the next day it’s, boom, you’re back on the field. I like Chicago, too. Seattle is very nice.”
What is your favorite ballpark other than Fenway?
“You know that. It’s New York. I love hitting in New York.”
Should Curt Schilling be elected to the Hall of Fame?
“I think so, yes. He will be.”
Who is a Boston athlete you most admire?
“Actually, this might surprise you. I like Mr. Bobby Orr. The more I read about him, the history of what he did, the more I admire him. He’s such a nice person, too. It was an honor for me to meet him. Bobby Orr is super legendary. Bill Russell, too. All those rings he won. Damn.”
Are you friendly with any other athletes in town?
“I bump into people sometimes. I met [Tom] Brady a couple of time. [Rob] Gronkowski, I know him. I’ve met a lot of the Celtics players and some Bruins. Those guys are kind of the same as you. But the legendary players are the ones I love to talk to.”
What size bat do you use?
“I always use 34½-32. When I first came up, I used 34-32. But that changed a while ago. I stay with the same bat. I don’t change like a lot of guys do.”
Where is your favorite place to eat in Boston?
“Man, I don’t want to get in trouble with anybody. It all depends on what I feel like eating. If I want to eat Spanish food, I go see my boy Hector [Piña,] at Merengue. He has another place, Vejigantes, I like. If I want to eat Italian food, I go to Strega in the North End and see Nick [Varano]. If I want steak and seafood, I go to Abe & Louie’s. And then, if I want to take Mama around for a hot date, we’ll go to Sorellina.”
If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing?
“Auto parts. I grew up into that. My father did that. I buy cars then work on them with a guy I know in Miami. I like that type of thing.”
So you could get somebody brake pads or a carburetor?
“Believe it. I know that stuff.”
Do you trim your own beard?
“I usually have somebody do it. But if I’m on the road and nobody is around, I’ll tighten it up myself. But it doesn’t look as good.”
Would you let your son D’Angelo play football?
“No, we wouldn’t. I’ve thought about that for a long time. I love watching football but the issue with concussions has been going on for a long time, not just recently. That’s the game. There’s a lot of hitting. If you had a choice, you can pick your sports. But sometimes football players don’t have choices.”
Who’s your favorite musician?
“I’ve been listening a lot to Sam Smith. His music is very chill. My daughter [Alexandra] got me listening to it. She likes to be the DJ in the car. She was like, “Dad, listen to this.” I like Sia, too. That kind of music is good. My favorite music is salsa. That is the music that relaxes me. It gives me good memories.”
Do you have a favorite television show?
“Do you know what I watch a lot? I like documentaries or movies based on drug dealing in the 1970s in places like Colombia. I love to learn about that. I grew up in a bad neighborhood where drugs were an everyday thing. Watching those shows, you learn how big the drug world was. You have no idea how many innocent people had their lives damaged by the drug people. It’s such a dirty world. It makes you think and appreciate what you have.”
You need 34 home runs for 500. Is that a big goal?
“It seems like it. Everybody is talking about it. That’s not something I think of. I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on myself. But if you look at history, not too many guys have done that. So, sure, I would like to do that. I go into every year wanting to hit at least 30 home runs. I could hit a couple extra.”