Upon returning from a six-game road trip on Tuesday, Ross and Beckett took turns at rejecting the notion that there was division in the Red Sox clubhouse. But as the days passed, the questions only intensified.
That’s why it took David Ortiz‘s voice to deliver the message. Amid the mounting criticism, the Red Sox designated hitter unleashed a tirade against the Boston media on Thursday for drumming up drama in the clubhouse.
But in reality, the diatribe was just another example of the slugger’s leadership.
Don’t think for one minute that the outburst wasn’t a calculated plan. As the team’s elder statesman, Ortiz likely premeditated the rant, hoping his words would silence all speculation and alleviate pressure from his teammates.
After all, nobody else’s statements would resonate quite as strongly.
For one, Ross is a newcomer to the Red Sox, one who’s still adapting to the clubhouse culture. Beckett, meanwhile, doesn’t exactly have the squeaky-clean reputation worthy of scolding others.
Dustin Pedroia? He’s never been one to rally the team with his words, more with his performance.
Kevin Youkilis? He’s struggled all season and is reportedly being dangled as trade bait to the highest bidder.
And frankly, the rest of starting roster doesn’t have sufficient service time in Boston to speak with authority. So from Boston skipper Bobby Valentine‘s perspective, Ortiz was the only player capable of quieting the noise.
“I think David is trying to speak for more than just himself,” Valentine said before Thursday’s game. “Maybe a distraction for the rest of [the team]. Put it on his shoulders again, like we have for most of the season.
“David handles [pressure] as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. You might have caught him at a bad day. He’s really pretty good at the drama. The ninth-inning drama, I’d like to see him there.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that Ortiz has stepped up as a leader. During the first day of spring training, the 36-year-old delivered a speech on atoning for last season’s epic collapse. Then last month, Ortiz organized a team meeting to unify the squad.
This time around, he defended the team through the media. By speaking out, Ortiz deflected all the distractions — and questions about the “toxic” clubhouse — from his teammates to himself.
Now, all the attention has shifted to Ortiz’s outburst as opposed to the woes plaguing the organization. It plays right into the designated hitter’s hands. And moving forward, he’ll shoulder the load like a leader.