FORT MYERS, Fla. — It took David Ortiz exactly two days to fly off the handle.
Ortiz, who reported to Boston Red Sox spring training on Tuesday, addressed the media for the first time Wednesday at JetBlue Park. When asked about Major League Baseball’s recent rule changes governing pace of play — specifically the rule stating a batter must keep one foot in the box at all times — Ortiz offered a candid response.
“I call that (B.S),” Ortiz said. “… They don’t understand that when you come out of the box, you’re thinking about what the (pitcher’s) trying to do. This is not like you go up to the plate with an empty mind. No, no, no. When you see guys pitch, coming out of the box, we’re not doing it just to do it. Our minds are speeding up.
“If I saw one pitch, when I come out, I’m thinking, ‘What is this guy going to try to do to me next?’ I’m not walking around just because there’s cameras all over the place and I want my buddies back home to see me and this and that. It doesn’t go that way. When you force a hitter to do that, 70 percent (of the time) you’re out because you don’t have any time to think. And the only time you have to think about things is that time. You know what I’m saying? I don’t know how this baseball game is going to end up.”
Ortiz was taken aback by the question about rule changes, suggesting he had no idea MLB plans to implement such tweaks this season. The opinionated slugger didn’t need to hear much in the way of details before ripping the league’s decision-making, though. It’s clear he’d like an opportunity to exit the batter’s box in between pitches.
In fact, Ortiz has no plans to adapt.
“I’m not going to change my game. I don’t care what they say,” Ortiz said definitively. “ … It’s not like I go around and do all kinds of stupid (expletive), but I’ve got to take my time to think about what their (pitcher) is going to do against me.
“And I’m pretty sure that every single hitter at this level is on the same page, because they put the rules together but they don’t talk to us (like), ‘As a hitter, how do you feel about this?’ You know what I’m saying? Why don’t you come and ask questions first and then we get into an agreement. But just like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to do this just because I say so.’ Oh buddy, it doesn’t work that way. Trust me.”
The “batter’s box rule” isn’t the only initiative that will be put into action this season. Timers will be installed to measure non-game action and break time between innings and pitching changes during games, and managers will be able to invoke replay from the dugout.
As far as in-game action, Ortiz thinks more blame should be placed on pitchers. Of course, MLB will experiment with a pitch clock at Double-A and Triple-A this season.
“If they’re going to have it on us, they should have it on the pitcher, too,” Ortiz said. “We’re not the only one in the game, you know what I’m saying? Every time they talk about shortening up the time (of game), they’re talking about the hitters. Nobody else.
“How about the guy on the mound who’s (shaking off) for three hours? That count? I’ve faced guys that I’m like, ‘Come on, man. Make a (expletive) pitch.’ Does that count? Nobody talks about that, right? So I don’t think it’s fair. That’s the bottom line.”
New commissioner Rob Manfred wasted little time in installing changes to speed up pace of play, something that’s considered a major issue within today’s game. MLB could face a trial-and-error period as far as figuring out the most effective changes, but Ortiz remains skeptical of altering the game.
“It don’t matter what they do, the game is not going to speed up,” Ortiz said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@stevesilva
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