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Former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz says he has no regrets about retiring and squashed any talk of him returning to the diamond.
It was never going to be easy to move on from David Ortiz. But before the Boston Red Sox concluded there was no reasonable way to replace Big Papi’s bat in the middle of the order, they traveled halfway around the world to make sure. Ortiz joined the Red Sox ahead of the 2003 season and retired in the fall. He’s credited with helping the Red Sox win three World Series titles, including their first since 1918.
“Baseball is not something that you wake up today and you say, ‘I’ll play tomorrow,'” Ortiz said “Baseball is something that carries a lot of sacrifice, a lot of preparation, and there is a reason why we train the entire year to play it, practice every day, especially during the season, because it is a sport of consistency.”
After Ortiz enjoyed such a strong final season, many fans, especially in Boston and the Dominican Republic, were hoping for Ortiz to return — either with the Red Sox or to represent his homeland in the World Baseball Classic. Ortiz, however, says he is working to adapt to his new life as a retired player.
Few players had a better second act of their career than Ortiz, who played until he was 40 and hit 252 home runs in his final eight seasons to finish with 541 total. There’s a never-ending line of skeptics who doubt Ramirez, at age 33 and transitioning to become primarily a designated hitter, has really grown up enough to have similar staying power, and their cynicism is well-founded. But from purely a numbers standpoint, he has put himself in good position.
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He has that cheerful arrogance. David Ortiz knows in a Reggie Jackson sort of way that he’s the straw that stirs the drink, but instead of all the baggage Reggie brings, David comes with spectacular play. I know all the sabermetricians say clutch hitting doesn’t exist, but we have David Ortiz to prove it. Aaron Boone and Bucky Dent and many others put me in my purgatory, and we came out of that on the back of David Ortiz into one of the greatest events in the history of sports.
If you had the choice, which script would you write for yourself? Would you like to play as long as you could? Or would you like to go out like David Ortiz — waving adios when you were still one of the best players alive? What’s the most he’s ever eaten at one time? “Well, going back to my younger day when I could really crush wings, I would say probably 1,000,” Ortiz said. “Now I can only have four or five. No more than that.”
“You know, it’s just my body, man,” said Ortiz, who has played through pain in his feet and ankles since he injured his Achilles in 2012. “I wish I could continue playing, but it takes a lot out of me. I’ve been dealing with it for the past four years. Every year gets worse. I’ve got to put a lot of effort and lot of work to perform at my highest level. At some point, it wears you out.”
Ortiz has been the ultimate Yankee tormenter during his 20-year career, and it goes beyond the mere fact that he has hit 53 home runs against them, tied with Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg for fourth most all time. Big Papi’s 12th-inning, two-run homer in Game 4 of the 2004 American League Championship Series started the cheap mlb jerseys discount greatest postseason comeback in baseball history, and since then, the clutch hits have kept on coming against the Red Sox’s biggest rival.
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The indelible moments Ortiz offered over the course of those championship runs — the walk-offs against the Yankees in 2004, the grand slam against the Tigers in ’13 — helped cement his status as a Boston legend well before his historic farewell season. In June, he’ll formally join those ranks.
Signed by the Red Sox after he was released by the Twins following the 2002 season, Ortiz became one of the most iconic players of his generation and most clutch hitters in franchise history. The MVP of the ’04 American League Championship Series and ’13 World Series, Ortiz was an integral leader of three World Series championship teams, including the ’04 club that broke the team’s 86-year championship drought.
But the Red Sox know Papelbon well. They drafted him in 2003, developed him in their farm system and won a World Series with him as their closer in 2007. Papelbon is the organization’s all-time saves leader with 219 over seven seasons from 2005 to ’11. And although manager John Farrell has described the high-strung Papelbon as “a unique guy in many ways,” Papelbon retains a strong relationship with Farrell, second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz.
In the bottom of the ninth, the Red Sox trailed, 4-3, against all-world closer Mariano Rivera. Kevin Millar walked. Dave Roberts came on as a pinch-runner and stole second. Bill Mueller belted a game-tying single to get Boston off the mat.
Three innings later, with the game still tied, Ortiz was facing Paul Quantrill. When a 2-1 front-door sinker darted toward his bat, Ortiz was waiting for it, and he walloped it.