Red Sox slugger David Ortiz spoke on a number of topics, including Manny Ramirez’s rift with Red Sox ownership, the role of the media in Boston, and why Dustin Pedroia is his Most Valuable Player pick, during an interview with WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” show this morning.
Big Papi, who was promoting the inaugural David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, which will take place in the Dominican Republic next month, was asked to chose between MVP candidates Kevin Youkilis and Pedroia. He gave the nod to the Gold Glove-winning second baseman.
“If I can only pick one, I gotta give it to Pedroia,” Ortiz said. “He did something that . . . it’s just not normal. The guy carried this team for, I would say, since Day 1 all the way to the end . . . With Pedroia, it was day in and day out, putting this team on his back and made sure that his teammates were ready to go, too. I never saw anything like that before.
“Youk did pretty much exactly the same thing, cool off at one point and then he picked it up again, but Pedroia was hot the whole year.”
Ortiz was asked about his comments yesterday that the Sox need another 30-home run hitter and where that yet-to-be acquired slugger might play.
“I’ll tell you one thing, if you get the opportunity to get a guy that can hit 30 homers and get 100 RBI, I bet you will find a position for him, guarantee,” said Ortiz. “I don’t know . . . it can be in the outfield, it can be anywhere. As long as you provide guys that put up numbers like, let’s say Manny did, we’re gonna be [a contender] . . . we’re talking about a third guy [in addition to himself and Jason Bay].”
Though Ortiz didn’t confirm that he was specifically hoping the Red Sox would pursue free-agent slugger Mark Teixeira, he said the addition of another big bat is necessary because the competition is so tough within the division.
“We have a lot of big salaries coming out this year and we are definitely a contender in the American League East. We know that we have to compete next year and it’s because New York is going to get stronger, everybody saw already what Tampa Bay is capable [of doing], those guys are going to come in next year with more experience,” Ortiz said. “The Blue Jays, they had great pitching this year, they gave us a tough time, and you never know what’s going to happen with the rest of the American League, so you definitely need to get stronger to [be ready to compete] next season.”
Ortiz also shed some light on Ramirez’s final days in Boston and his change of attitude with the media last season.
“The Manny situation was a tough situation for the team, for us the teammates, for him as a player,” Ortiz said. “He was trying to get to be out, everybody knows, it’s not news, for the past few years and it was something that it was getting worse and worse and worse every year. Last year [in the beginning] was one of those years that he just chill out and went to his business and pull himself together, it was a lot of talking.
“I myself, pretty much every year, have to kind of deal with that because me and Manny, we’re pretty close, and it got to the point where I had to come down and talk to him because we were going through a good situation and you don’t want to put the situation in a [bad] spot, everything just goes down. We were playing good. We were a pretty good contender in the American League East, and you just don’t want to change the whole thing, just knowing that you are the cleanup hitter, the best hitter in the game, and people look at you like, ‘Well what’s going on with this guy?,’ so, it was a lot of talking pretty much I encouraged Manny to talk to the media, make you guys job easy and it’s because you guys are the ones to let people know what’s going on, what’s happening with us in the clubhouse and everything, and he definitely agreed with me and started pretty much talking to everybody. Getting along.
“Everything started one day that I told Manny, ‘Hey look, look at the numbers that you have put up your whole career, and you have never been able to win an MVP, there’s a reason why’. And the media is our family. The media, sometimes you gonna find one or two guys that they’re gonna screw things up, try to get people’s attention writing bad things, but not everybody’s the same way. You gotta understand that and you can blame everybody for somebody that just makes a mistake. It doesn’t work like that . . . pull yourself together and start getting connected with the media because that’s how you express your feelings and people get to know more and Manny’s good things, that people don’t know about Manny. And he agreed with me.”
Ortiz was asked if he believed Manny quit on him and his teammates last season.
“Well, to tell you the truth, it was something going down between the Red Sox and Manny Ramirez that I can never really break that down for you because there’s some personal reasons that he has with our owners and I never got to the bottom of it, and [he’s] got his feelings, you know, Manny was, he got to the point that he really wanted to get to play for someone else.
“I’ll tell you one thing, I’m the kind of guy that I look at the positive side of everything and Manny, I get to learn a lot of things from Manny. Manny’s one of the guys that worked hard every day to have some really good performances out there, and I never saw Manny not getting prepared to play. . . now he wasn’t happy here, everybody knows that. And when a relationship get to the point, you gotta make a move just like we did, and you go from there.”
Ortiz was asked if he thought the Red Sox would have repeated as World Series champs had Manny stayed in Boston and played hard for the remainder of the season. “Probably,” replied Ortiz. “I’m not going to lie to you, probably.”
Ortiz, who is currently resting his injured right wrist, anticipates being able to pick up a bat in December if all goes well.
“By the end of next month, I’ll be able to start swinging again and feel better,” he said.