David Ortiz tested free agency during the offseason, but it wasn’t really an elaborate test. According to the slugger, he knew all along that Boston would be his home in 2013.
“Not for a minute,” Ortiz told WEEI.com when asked if he entertained thoughts of playing elsewhere this season. “I knew I was going to come back here. [The Red Sox] used an approach that was different than years before. I understood why. They had options before so you can take your time. But this time they knew I was going to be a free agent. They were approaching me [during the 2012 season], even with me being injured. I knew that, so that’s why I wasn’t paying attention to too many things.”
The decision to bring back Ortiz looks like a fantastic one at this point, as the 37-year-old has been locked in at the plate since returning from his Achilles injury. He’s hitting .447 with three home runs, 15 RBIs and a 1.279 OPS in 12 games, which is far and away the best production of any designated hitter in baseball.
This season’s offensive outburst is really a continuation of last season. When healthy, Ortiz was terrific, hitting .318 with 23 home runs and 60 RBIs in 90 games. Unfortunately, his 2012 campaign was derailed by an injury, which created even more question marks going into the offseason.
Now that Ortiz is healthy and mashing baseballs all over the place, one has to wonder what kind of numbers he’ll be able to put up if all goes according to plan. Staying healthy is obviously the big thing, but the slugger is also glad that he doesn’t have a looming free agency in the back of his mind.
“I’m not thinking of any of that. I’m just thinking of raking,” Ortiz told WEEI.com. “I don’t have any regrets, any hard feels or anything.
“There are a lot of people hoping you have a down year, and say you’re getting older. But those people don’t realize they still don’t pitch to me, and when they do pitch to me I do what I need to do. It’s not about how old you get, or how people think. It’s about how hard you work and what kind of approach you have.
“That’s why last year when I said, ‘I want two years so I don’t have to think about my contract,’ a lot of people got the wrong idea. They thought I was going to chill, sit back and not do anything. That ain’t me. I like to earn my money. I like to work for it, and as long as I’ve been here that’s what I’ve been doing. I wasn’t going to change. What for? I love the game. I love beating up on the opposition. I love the pain on their face. So why should I stop?”
The Red Sox certainly hope Ortiz doesn’t stop any time soon. For as much pain as there’s been on the faces of opponents, there have been even more smiles going around the Boston clubhouse during the early part of this season.