Ortiz offered a rather cordial response recently when asked if he’s “washed up” in his 19th major league season (13th with the Boston Red Sox). It was somewhat surprising given that Ortiz typically wears his heart on his sleeve, but don’t be fooled. The question still struck a chord.
“I was asked on camera the other day if I was washed up. And I pretty much didn’t react to it, but I thought that was very disrespectful,” Ortiz told WEEI.com’s John Tomase before Saturday’s game against the Oakland Athletics at Fenway Park. “You don’t disrespect people like that, you know what I’m saying?
“I’ve come a long way, and everyone knows my status, and to come and wipe it in my face just because things are not going well right now, I don’t think the question was fair. That tells me how things are around here. People forget too fast, and I don’t think it’s right.”
Ortiz knows this season hasn’t been good. The 39-year-old entered Sunday with a .221 average, six homers, 20 RBIs and a .678 OPS in 50 games. More importantly, the Red Sox sat five games under .500 (26-31) and 5 1/2 games back of the New York Yankees in the American League East.
He also knows there’s outside chatter that his best days are behind him. After all, Ortiz heard the same rumblings as far back as 2009, yet he has silenced his critics each time it has looked like Father Time is about to pummel him into the ground. He expects this season to be no different despite the slow start.
“I’m not washed up,” Ortiz told Tomase. “I guarantee you that. I can wake up and hit, bro. That’s my nature. I’m not washed up.”
In his conversation with Tomase, Ortiz pointed to Major League Baseball’s expanded strike zone as one reason for his drop in production and offense being down across the league. He also noted the shift has negatively impacted his batting average, though his goal still is to drive the baseball with authority and hit for power.
As far as why he didn’t go off when asked point-blank, “Are you washed up,” Ortiz made it clear that throwing a tirade wouldn’t have done much beyond draw additional criticism. Thus, he brushed it off, as difficult as it might have been for the nine-time All-Star.
“The reason why I didn’t get mad is because every time I get mad, I’m the bad guy,” Ortiz told Tomase. “If I blow up, I’m the bad guy.
“And my (expletive) is not going to finish like this, I’ll tell you that right now. I’m not going to end up like this. But you know what? Every time Papi makes some noise, it’s, ‘Papi’s greedy, Papi’s this, Papi’s that.’ That (question) was messed up, and because I know it was messed up, I didn’t react to it. But I’m not washed up. I’m not. You know why? Because they pitch me very carefully. If they don’t, I make them pay. All of them (expletive) who say I’m washed up, tell them to sit down and watch the game.”
Yup, Ortiz’s fire is still there. Haters only add to it.
Thumbnail photo via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images
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