Mookie Betts is good. Really, really good.
But if you ask David Ortiz, who’s set to retire after this season, the 23-year-old right fielder is just scratching the surface of how great he could be for the Boston Red Sox.
“That kid that you saw me talking to right there, that kid, he’s already special,” Ortiz recently told NESN’s Tom Caron in an exclusive interview after being shown footage of him teaching Betts during spring training. “But you have no idea how good he’s going to be, because he does his (research), he does his homework.”
Ortiz’s impact on younger players was one of the many topics examined in NESN’s special presentation “David Ortiz: The Journey,” presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino. His ongoing tutelage is incredibly important, though. Boston’s roster is loaded with up-and-coming talent, and lessons like the one shown in the clip of Ortiz teaching Betts the finer points of hitting could shape the Red Sox’s future success.
“He teaches you a lot, he helps you a lot. He’s a gamer,” Betts said in a sit-down interview with NESN for the special presentation. “He goes out and wants to win. And basically when the lights come on, he turns into a different person and you just have to sit back and enjoy the show, because that’s what he’s doing, he’s putting on a show.”
Ortiz’s final act has been one of his best. Not only has he put up huge numbers in 2016. But he’s doing so at age 40, still leading as much by example as he is vocally. That’s saying something.
“The way he’s able to catch up to 100 (mph pitches) the same way as us 23-year-olds, it’s just amazing,” Betts said. “It shows how good he is, obviously, and with age comes wisdom.”
When it comes to Ortiz, there’s plenty of wisdom to go around. And perhaps no one is soaking it in quite like Betts, who could follow in Ortiz’s footsteps, carry the torch and become the Red Sox’s next legend if the early signs are any indication.
Big Papi sure believes in him.
“David Ortiz: The Journey,” presented by Foxwoods Resort Casino, will re-air Wednesday, Sept. 21, at 11:30 p.m. ET (after “NESN Sports Today”) and Saturday, Sept. 24 at 4 p.m. ET (before Red Sox pregame coverage).
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images