ARLINGTON, Texas — With David Ortiz “hitting like [expletive],” the designated hitter was dropped to seventh in the order today. He was dropped lower even than he was in the long days at the beginning of the season, when he wasn’t hitting, and some left him for done. By batting .280 with 14 homers and a .591 slugging percentage from June 2 to July 31, Ortiz proved that wasn’t quite the case.
Then came the news. On July 30, the news broke that Ortiz’s name had been among the 104 on the now infamous list of positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs. He hit a game-winning, three-run homer that day. But since then, he hasn’t hit anything. And, yesterday, he explained part of what has been weighing so heavily on him, what has clearly made him angry as he tries to get past the story that likely will change forever how the slugger is perceived.
“People that don’t know you, I understand that they come out with things like that,” Ortiz said, standing on the dugout steps before batting practice. “Who cares? But you guys here in Boston, I don’t think it’s fair. Not all of you, but most of you that know me, that know pretty much a lot about me, most of it just want to make news out of this. People talking on TV, talking about me, the David Ortiz they know, like I’m a criminal. It’s not fair, you know?
“It’s something that before you come out with things like that, you should sit down and think about, hey, what if somebody did this to my kids or to a friend of mine or to myself or someone else that I know? It’s not going to be a good feeling. People talking [bad] about me, I’ve heard it before. Even I come out and say it, [it’s] he better come out and say that he did it. He better come out. Come on, people. Why don’t you say this guy, you know, he is [looked at] different around here as a player. So let’s wait to see what he has to say.
“Like I always say, I come in one day, I’ll go out another. When I get to be gone, I won’t give a flying [expletive] about nobody, period. Nobody going to give a flying [expletive] about me. They’ve already done anyway. But I see where all the media and player situation here come from. That said, I thought it was different. It ain’t, though. All people work about is making money, selling bad news, talking [expletive] about people. Trying to call attention. I don’t agree with it.”
While he said that he has been able to put all that in the past, his numbers speak differently. As he said, “I’m just dealing with my personal situation, one day I will figure it out.” But Ortiz has batted .114 in August, with no homers and just two RBIs. He has not been hitting at all with runners in scoring position, to the point where he is better suited to hitting down in the lineup. Perhaps that will take the pressure off. It has clearly been a difficult summer for Ortiz, who fell into a deep slump to start the season with his father going through serious illness. Then came the performance-enhancing drug allegations.
On that topic, Ortiz appears angry at the way he believes he has been treated, especially by the media.
“Let me tell you what I know: I know that I’ve been tested 18 times,” Ortiz said. “Nobody talk about that. Have you heard anybody talking about that? Nobody talk about that. But the bottom line is all people care about is selling bad news. Bad news is what makes the money, but sometimes you’ve got to sit down and think about things before you make that as a truth.”
Ultimately, though, his message was clear, “I came out and said what I said. If you want to judge me, it’s on you. If you believe me, it’s on you too. It’s confusing [stuff] but that’s how it is. So not too much you can do about it.”