David Ortiz hit one home run in April over 56 at-bats. He ended the month hitting .143/.238/.286 and looked finished.
I remember a chat we did on this blog and somebody asked me what moves I thought the Red Sox should make. I suggested releasing David. Nobody disagreed.
Terry Francona sat Ortiz against lefties and outraged the big man by pinch hitting for him in Toronto one night. There were a few days where nobody would have been surprised had the Red Sox cut him loose. Teams were challenging him with fastballs and getting away with it. It was painful to watch.
Now it’s Sept. 15 and Ortiz has 30 homers, 91 RBIs and an .894 OPS. The three-run homer he belted in the eighth inning tonight saved the Red Sox from an embarrassing loss against Seattle. Further, he crushed a 96-mph fastball off Brandon League.
“Good for him,” Francona said. “He believed in himself and he’s proven it. That’s great to see. I know there’s a lot of people he was probably mad at and I was probably right near the top of the list. But he’s done a great job. League is one the premier righties in the league and he put a charge in that ball.”
Ortiz said all along he would be OK. He even predicted in April that he would be back with the Red Sox next season. He sounded delusional, but he was right.
“It’s a lot of work,” Ortiz said.
Only Ted Williams, with eight, has had more 30 home run seasons for the Red Sox than Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, who had six each.
“It means a lot, man,” Ortiz said. “I’ve been here only for eight years. I’m not even close to what Mr. Williams was or means to this organization. He played for so many years and did so many great things. When people mention your name next to him, it’s a huge compliment.”
There seems little doubt that Ortiz will be back next season. Either the Red Sox will pick up his $12.5 million option or sign him to a deal that makes sense for both parties.
• Adrian Beltre now has 71 extra-base hits this season, a record for a Red Sox third baseman. The old mark of 70 as set by Wade Boggs in 1987. Beltre’s 42 doubles are a career high. He’s hitting .328 with a .371 OPB.
• Rich Hill had a big grin as he discussed his first win as a member of the Red Sox. What meant more to him was getting back to the big leagues. His last appearance was July 27, 2009 for Baltimore. He had shoulder surgery after that.
• Jed Lowrie reports that his hometown of Salem, Ore, is roughly four hours south on Interstate 5. His parents, his grandmother, two sets of aunts and uncles, a great uncle and his great uncle’s daughter were at Safeco to see him belt two home runs. So was Al Wells, one of Lowrie’s former coaches and a mentor when he was a kid. Joe Wells, Al’s son, is one of Jed’s closest friends.
Call me corny, but good for those folks to travel all that way and see Jed belt a couple.
Thanks to everybody for reading. Back at it tomorrow. Well, today on the East Coast.