David Ortiz was done for just a few seasons ago, or at least that was the sentiment around baseball. The perennial All Star struggled to make solid contact to start the 2009 season, even failing to hit his first home run until May 20th — the 36th game of the season. Then, things just suddenly changed.
Ortiz, who was hitting .185 with just one home run to his name at the end of May 2009, says he was trying everything to change his fortunes, but it took a chat with an old friend from back home in the Dominican Republic to finally understand and fix his issues.
“At the time, there is one thing that I figured out,” Ortiz told ESPN’s Chris Berman after the Red Sox’ World Series win on Wednesday night. “I had an injury in 2008 on my hand that carried over to 2009. And I had this loop in my swing that [kept me from] catching up with pitches. I was under every pitch.
“So one of my buddies from back home that plays baseball with me and knows a lot about baseball called me and told me, ‘Hey, it’s nothing wrong with your swing, you just have that loop because you’re not using your top hand. Go back to that, start training your top hand like you used to and you’re going to go back to normal. You’re right there with every pitch. The reason why you’re not catching up with it is because the ball is here and [your bat is below it]. Your bottom hand is taking over and your top hand is not doing anything,’” Ortiz said, relaying his friend’s message.
Ortiz looked into the issue, studying his swing habits to see how he might correct the swing. Eventually, the adjustment worked, as he propelled his average back up to .238 by season’s end and even finished with 28 home runs.
“So when I started watching videos, everything clicked one day,” Ortiz added. “Boom. Just because of that.”
Since then, Ortiz has returned to his dangerous ways, hitting above .300 in each of the last three seasons, including a stat line of .309, 30 home runs and 103 RBIs in 2013. Oh, and, of course, leading the Red Sox to their third World Series in the last decade with his MVP performance. That was pretty huge, too.