David Ortiz estimates he has undergone six tests this year for performance-enhancing drugs. So far, none of those tests has yielded a positive result. Yet when Ortiz came back from an Achilles injury tearing the cover off the baseball, hitting .426 out of the gate and stretching his hitting streak to 27 games, at least one reporter felt Ortiz’s performance was suspicious.
The result was a thinly-veiled attempt to smear the slugger by Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy this week. Shaughnessy peppered Ortiz with questions related to PED use, including the detail that Ortiz, as a Dominican player, warrants extra scrutiny. After extensive media coverage of the column, Red Sox chairman Tom Werner responded to the accusations on Friday.
“I fully acknowledge the right the media has to ask difficult questions and to express controversial opinions,” Werner writes on the Red Sox website. “Freedom of the press is fundamental in our culture.
“They had the right, but was it right?”
Werner takes issue with the presumption of guilt when there is no real basis beyond the fact that Ortiz is hitting well. He points out that Ted Williams returned from Korea in 1953 to hit .407 in 37 games, despite just 10 days of practice for the 35-year-old left fielder.
It is doubtful a reporter asked Williams what substances were in his body to enable him to hit like that after such a long layoff. Then again, Werner admits that was a different time.
“We’re in a new media world,” Werner writes, “and fact-less accusations stick. Those who publicly ask questions must take responsibility for their words.”
Werner also sat down with Tom Caron during Friday Night Fenway to discuss the issue further. See their interview in the video above.