ARLINGTON, Texas — David Ortiz is in the repair shop waiting to get fixed so he can drive pitchers crazy again.
The Red Sox slugger, who is mired in a terrible 1-for-20 slump, went along with a suggestion by manager John Farrell that he step back for a couple of days to recalibrate his mind and his swing.
“Oh yeah,” said Ortiz when asked if he was on board with it. “There was no discussion. It was just a short talk. Nothing crazy. Just not feeling well. We just agreed on a few things and I’ll be back the day after tomorrow [Saturday].”
Ortiz said he would be working with hitting coaches Chili Davis and Victor Rodriguez to find the answers.
“Work, that’s all we do around here,” Ortiz said, who is dealing with a heavy cold. “We work as a group here. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. For me it worked once [in 2009 when he took time off while under Terry Francona’s watch] so might as well try it again.”
What’s been going on?
“Been thinking too much. Overdoing things. This ballclub needs me. We have a long season ahead. Hope to get the best out of this. I will be fine. If it doesn’t come back it’s because it already left. We’ll see how it works. Keep trying my best,” Ortiz said.
“Sometimes this is good that it happens so people understand this game ain’t easy. This game will trick you. The only benefit I have is that I know it’s the worst it can be. A guy like myself, I have to be at the top of my game. The pitchers just say ‘Keep that monster sleeping.’ In my case I have to figure out how to execute better.
“There’s always a Plan B,” he added. “If Plan B doesn’t work you don’t have it anymore. I’m putting into play Plan B.”
Which is . . .
“Come back and rake,” he said.
When asked to clarify when he would be back Ortiz said, “the manager is the one who has the last word. I’m just an employee here.”
The Red Sox have been trying to find solutions to problems and attacking them one by one.
They fired pitching coach Juan Nieves and hired Carl Willis. They brought up young lefty Eduardo Rodriguez, who pitched a gem against Texas on Thursday night.
On Tuesday they spent almost an hour with Joe Kelly going over his last outing and pointing out where he was vulnerable and why he was failing.
The focus now is Ortiz.
Farrell wants Ortiz to step away from the microscope that has become his 2015 season.
While Ortiz looks horrid at the plate — he’s not catching up to fastballs and has gone back to not hitting lefties very well — he personally doesn’t believe he’s lost it.
There are no retirement parties planned and none that Ortiz wants to attend at the moment.
Is he worried?
Not so much that he’s lost it, but that he can’t figure out how to get it back. He understands what pitchers are trying to do against him and eventually he needs to figure it out and make them pay.
Ortiz is hitting .216, .200 in May with two home runs in 99 plate appearances.
Ortiz, who went 1 for 12 in Minnesota in a ballpark (Target) where he normally excels, feels he could leave the slump behind any day. But for now, it’s real. He’s going through a terrible drought and he can’t seem to shake it.
“Hopefully more than anything he just takes a little bit of a step back and regroups,” Farrell said. “He was receptive. He acknowledged that some things haven’t been going well as they can. We’ve got to get David back to where he’s most effective and most productive.”
In his place the Red Sox will use Hanley Ramirez as a DH, and he doubled and homered in the win Thursday.
If Ortiz is the main guy the Red Sox need to get going, then Ramirez is No. 2 on the list. The goal is to get both middle-of-the-order hitters cranking at the same time.
A week ago the Red Sox got Mike Napoli straightened out. It didn’t take a two- or three-day benching, but he and Dustin Pedroia found the answer after watching video. Often players use video to look at their swings, but they don’t always identify what they’re looking for.
So over the next couple of days Ortiz will look at video, do all of the basic hitting drills in the cage, and get completely back to basics.
In the process he hopes to find Napoli’s miracle cure and once again silence all the people who think he’s done.