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David Ortiz on the Red Sox: 'It was hard to compete'

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  July 9, 2012 03:20 PM

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KANSAS CITY — David Ortiz was 15 minutes late for the American League's press conference this afternoon. But he made a grand entrance, arriving wearing sunglasses and an assortment of diamond jewelry.

"Best-dressed All-Star every year," Baltimore's Adam Jones said.

Big Papi offered a few observations on the state of the Red Sox and his outstanding first half of the season.

"In our case, injuries got in the way for us to have the hard time that we've been having through the first half of the season," Ortiz said. "The American League East is one of the toughest divisions to play. The East division has always been tough."

Ortiz admitted it's strange to be the only member of the Red Sox to make the All-Star Game.

"It's a little crazy," he said. "I've not been able to see some of my teammates here like usual. It was strange. But at the same time we have a lot on the DL. That's the major reason, I guess."

Ortiz said he was satisfied with his first-half performance, pointing out that it required patience at the plate.

"If you don't have hot guys hitting behind you, they won't mind to pitch around you and take care of the rest, you know what I'm saying? So this first half was good," he said. "Like I always do, tried my best. Hopefully the rest of the guys that are on the DL will be ready for the second half and us to have a better chance."

Ortiz is hitting .312 with a 1.013 OPS, the fourth-best in the game. Ortiz has 22 home runs, 57 RBIs and 47 extra-base hits. Only Reds first baseman Joe Votto, with 49, has more.

Ortiz is on a pace to hit 41 home runs, something he hasn’t done since that magic season of 2004. Last week he became the 49th player in history with 400 homers.

“It’s one of those renaissance years. You’re talking about being on pace for 40 homers and 120 RBIs. Those are numbers that the elite of the elite put up,” Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. “David’s a great hitter. He’s one of the faces of baseball.”

Ortiz thinks the dysfunctional Sox have a shot to make the playoffs despite a 43-43 record and losses in eight of their last 11 games.

"We're going to have a lot of guys coming back, a lot of the regular guys coming back for the second half. So I think we'll be in better shape for the second half," he said. "It was hard to compete like that.

"We haven't been able to work as a group, lot of injuries. ... At one point we had the whole regular outfield on the DL. I've never seen anything like that before."

Former Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, now with the Phillies, said he suspected the team would balk on the idea of signing Ortiz to a two-year deal that would take him into retirement.

"It's a business, baby. I get it. You know? I get what they're trying to do with David. I get it, man. It's a business," he said.

But Papelbon hopes that changes.

“In my opinion, the Red Sox are not the Red Sox without him. Period,” Papelbon said. “I don’t care what he asks for. I try and make that big man happy.”

The All-Star buzz from KC: The White Sox players on hand are unanimous on the positive effect Kevin Youkilis has had on Chicago. "Great player and a great teammate," Paul Konerko said. "He's made a real impact for us since the day he got there." ... The Yankees are said to be angry with the critical comments Reggie Jackson made about Alex Rodriguez and several Hall of Famers, including Jim Rice. Jackson was told to stay away from the team for a period of time.

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