David Ortiz said he would take winning a World Series any day over hitting 500 home runs. But with no chance at the Fall Classic this season, he was honored by the Red Sox before Monday night’s 8-7 win against the Rays for reaching the 500-homer milestone in Tampa Bay Sept. 12.
Ortiz, who was making his first appearance at Fenway Park since the milestone, would have loved to have done it at home, but it wasn’t meant to be.
Teammates as well Tampa Bay players applauded Ortiz. The Red Sox gave Ortiz a plaque denoting all of his 500 homers and a pair of LL Bean boots presented by third base coach Brian Butterfield. Boston’s mayor, Marty Walsh, proclaimed it David Ortiz Day, and a video by the president of the Dominican Republic was shown.
Topping the gift list was a white Infiniti QX80 Limited SUV, with former teammates Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek, and Pedro Martinez coming out of the car. Varitek introduced Ortiz, who said a few words to the crowd.
The ceremony also featured Red Sox owner John Henry (who also owns the Globe) and his wife Linda, chairman Tom Werner, outgoing president/CEO Larry Lucchino, and president Sam Kennedy.
“It’s home and I wish I could have [done it] here. It’s not that simple. It’s not how that works. Happy to be at home. Happy that Red Sox had a ceremony for me,” Ortiz said before the festivities.
“Baseball is a game that is not easy,” Ortiz said. “It takes a lot way from you. Even on the days you feel like Superman you can have bad days. The season is a long season. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
“It’s going to be a special night and I always thanked the fans for support over the years. My dedication is something I’m proud of what I do, and having fans going home happy.”
Ortiz got off to a slow start this season, part of the malaise that ripped the season apart early on.
“This game is not based on people dictating the way it’s supposed to be,” Ortiz said. “Struggling, slumps are part of the game. When Mr. Ted Williams hit [.406], he didn’t struggle too much, but too bad it’s the way it is in today’s game. You’re facing great pitching every night. You see the best of the best every day, especially when you’re David Ortiz. You’re going to see the best of the best every time. I have to keep on working and be patient. Sure I’d love to have hit 40 homers in April, it doesn’t work that way. It’s a long season. Like I always say, May is just May. It’s not September.”
Ortiz received a huge compliment from interim manager Torey Lovullo, who pointed out how much work Ortiz does in the weight room to keep himself strong and prepared.
“At my age, just think about the day that you are in,” Ortiz said. “I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow, but I can tell you what’s going to happen today.
“That’s what happens when you reach the age of 40. I’m proud to be 40 and be able to do what I have accomplished in my career. Not many of us get to that point.”
“I’m a winner,” he added. “I train to win. Win another World Series. I’ll take the World Series any time on top of the 500 homers. Any day. That’s my goal for next year. That was my goal for this year, but it didn’t work out that way.”
Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski confirmed a Yahoo! report that he interviewed Houston Astros player development director Quinton McCracken for the general manager job.
McCracken had a 12-year major league career.
To date, he appears to be the first to be interviewed for the GM job.
There’s been speculation in baseball that Dombrowski already has someone in mind for the job, and names that have surfaced include former Orioles and Braves GM Frank Wren, former Cubs GM Jim Hendry, and a few other former GMs. In-house candidates Mike Hazen and Allard Baird also appear to be in the mix.
Ramirez is better
Hanley Ramirez was taking grounders at first and third base during batting practice. But Lovullo still isn’t sure when Ramirez can play.
Lovullo said Ramirez (shoulder) hasn’t been able to throw from different angles, though he did some of that in batting practice.
“He’s feeling much better,” Lovullo said. “His shoulder is improving, but what he shared with me is he wants to make sure he’s pain-free before he gets out there. And he won’t be taken off the DL until he can play defense. That was outlined to him in the initial meeting with Dave [Dombrowski], that he would not come off just to hit.
“We’re getting to that point where we’re challenging his arm angles, challenging his throws, and re-evaluating. I wish I could give you a timetable as to when that would happen but nothing is imminent.
“I know that he’s getting very close because he expressed to me that he’s feeling good around the bag, he’s feeling good at picking up the ball. His offensive approach and his swings have been very productive.
“It’s just the pain that he’s feeling and fatigue and soreness that he’s feeling in his right shoulder has limited him.”
With only 13 games remaining, Ramirez likely won’t get too many reps at first base, but perhaps enough to present him as a first baseman/DH in the offseason.
Sandoval out sick
Pablo Sandoval looked horrible as he sat near his locker packing up to go home.
Lovullo said Sandoval was “officially sick” and the manager sent him home.
Sandoval left Sunday’s series finale vs. Toronto with light-headedness, according to Lovullo. He didn’t play Friday or Saturday when he ran a fever.