BOSTON (CBS) – David Ortiz heads into his 11th Spring Training with the Boston Red Sox a happy man.
He’s not worried about a contract extension, as the team gave him a two-year deal that could be worth up to $30 million over the off-season. He’s not too concerned about his Achilles, which caused him to miss the last two and a half month of the 2012 season.
Ortiz said he’s not 100 percent yet, but he’ll be good to go for opening day.
Right now, Ortiz is only concerned about one thing.
“Make sure I go deep,” the slugger said with a chuckle. “That’s all you worry about.”
Ortiz, who clubbed 23 homers last season before the injury, said he began workouts a few weeks ago and has been hitting pain-free. He’s following the plan the team trainers laid out for him, and all signs are pointing to him being ready for April 1 in New York.
“I’m not 100 percent yet but I was pain-free doing it, which was a good sign. Now the trainers are moving forward with things slowly,” explained Ortiz. “Right now, I’m just doing what the trainers told me to do. Pretty much everything they’re telling me is happening sooner than they expect, which is a good thing. We’re moving forward, they just don’t want to rush it.”
Ortiz did use the brief media session to air out a little dirty laundry he has with former manager Bobby Valentine. Valentine said after the 69-93 season he felt Ortiz quit on the team when he did not return from the Achilles injury. And when asked about the “character guys” that general manager Ben Cherington brought in during the offseason, the DH used it as a jumping off point to talk some Bobby V.
“A lot of players had a lot of issues with our manager last year,” Ortiz started. “We have a new manager [in John Farrell], a guy that is familiar with the organization, a guy we pretty much grew up around him. An organization, a team, is like the human body. If the head is right, the body will function right. If the head is messed up, the body will be all over the place. It seems like that was part of our situation last year; guys were uncomfortable with the manager we had.
“I think the first move that our organization did was to go out and try to fix that. I’m pretty sure everyone is looking at that like a positive move. It’s like a fresh start,” Ortiz said of the Farrell hire. “We are going back to the basics, with a manager like John.”
“To be honest with you, last year in spring training at the start of workouts, I started to see things I had never seen in baseball,” Ortiz recalled. “I’ve been watching and playing baseball for a long time so I had a question mark on the things I saw last year. Those question marks went into the season and you guys saw the disaster that happened with us last year. Now, you’re going back to seeing the things you’re used to. Baseball is a game that is complicated, so when you start to add things like that, it doesn’t get better. It gets worse.”
Ortiz used a cutoff drill Valentine made them do last spring as an example. Ortiz had never seen such a drill throughout his career, and felt it left the players with more questions than answers.
That was just the start of what would go on to be one of the worst seasons in franchise history. But now, with Farrell at the helm, Ortiz is hoping the team’s “fresh start” will translate into W’s and a much happier fan base.
“I ran out of patience last year and I’m a player. I can imagine where the fans are at,” said Ortiz, before applauding the offseason moves made by Cherington. “We went out and got our bullpen better, our starting pitching is definitely going to be better this year. As a player, you learn from your mistakes – you learn when things are bad. We have guys with more experience this year, and that’s the hope.
“We have a closer, a leadoff hitter, a middle of the lineup guy. Those are the things as a fan you look at, and say ‘we’ll see how the season goes,’” Ortiz concluded.
For everything Spring Training, follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ. Tune in to his updates from Fort Myers, Florida all week on WBZ-TV, WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and 98.5 The Sports Hub!