Editor's note: NESN.com is going to tell the story of the 2012 Red Sox in Bobby Valentine's words. Each game day, we will select a Valentine quote that sums up the day for the Red Sox.
David Ortiz has been, without a doubt, a big part of the heart of the Red Sox for many years.
In the past decade, he has been a team leader in passion and production along with Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek. Ortiz has been a driving power not only in hits, homers and RBIs but also in Red Sox spirit.
The Red Sox gave Ortiz a chance in 2003, scooping him up after six up-and-down years with the Minnesota Twins. He's been paying them back ever since. On top of stellar regular-season numbers, Ortiz drove Boston to its first World Series title in 86 years in 2004 and helped the Red Sox to an encore in 2007.
All along, he's been adored by fans as "Big Papi," a man with clout both from his bat and in the hearts of fans.
The history is not lost on new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, and as he said Sunday when asked about Ortiz's spring performance, neither is Ortiz's significance.
Valentine reflected on why, soon after being named the new Boston manager, he reached out to the slugger.
"I definitely wanted to let him know that the new guy really wanted him," Valentine said. "I think that's basically all I said, that I always appreciated watching him from afar, and I know how important he is to any team. And I wanted him on mine."
That support from Valentine echoes the belief the Red Sox have always had in Ortiz — a belief that may even be vital to Ortiz performing the way he can. Just as he once used his new home in Boston as an impetus for MVP numbers, he has used the doubts raised over the last few springs as a sparkplug for strong seasons.
After a few awkward Aprils where Red Sox management was pilloried for keeping a seemingly fading Ortiz around, Big Papi has burst out of the gate this season. The 36-year-old is hitting .444 with a homer and 10 RBIs. On Sunday, he went 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI in a 6-4 win over the Rays.
Ortiz, always of great value for the personality and winning mentality he brings to the team, is now a top offensive producer again.
Ortiz is thanking the believers with his bat, and that's why Valentine and so many others have no trouble saying they want him on their team.
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