In April 2009, he had a .230 average with 22 strikeouts and no homers. A year later in April, he plummeted to a .143 average with 21 strikeouts to go along with just one round-tripper and four RBIs.
Yet at age 36, Ortiz is now simply scorching the baseball, hitting .444 with one long ball and 10 RBIs. During a particular stretch over the course of Saturday and Sunday, the designated hitter managed to record a hit in seven consecutive at-bats.
So, what gives? Well, Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan has an idea.
“It’s telling me that he’s a man on a mission,” Magadan said. “He obviously did it a lot last year. I think that was the big reason he had the year that he had last year, and he understands that when he’s swinging at strikes and driving the ball to opposite fields, it doesn’t matter who’s pitching — he’s going to have a lot of success.”
Ortiz isn’t just torturing righties. He’s feasting on left-handed pitching — in this case, Matt Moore on Sunday — as well, going 3-for-4 with two doubles and one RBI in the 6-4 win over the Rays.
Heading into the showdown against Moore, Ortiz was hitting .300 against southpaws this season. But he’s also been patient at the plate.
“There are going to be tough lefties that are going to get you out,” Ortiz said. “There’s going to be lefties that don’t give you pitches to hit. The other day we were facing Ricky Romero, and it was tough. There wasn’t anything that you could really drive.
“They’re going to pitch you tough, but whenever you get a chance to hit a ball over the plate, you have to.”
Other factors fuel Ortiz’s fire, as well. It’s no secret that he desires a multi-year contract. It’s no secret that he hopes to eradicate all memories from the September swoon. And it’s no secret he hasn’t forgotten about the abysmal Aprils of the past.
“I think he likes proving you guys [the media] wrong,” Magadan said.