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Roche’s Spring Training Blog: Ortiz Using Contract As Motivation

By Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
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WBZ-TV's Dan Roche Dan Roche
Dan Roche is an award-winning sports anchor and reporter for WBZ-T...
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FORT MYERS, Fla (CBS) — Both David Ortiz and John Henry addressed the media Wednesday at the Red Sox complex here at JetBlue Park.

David Ortiz was very up front and honest – as he usually is – talking about his contract when he met with the collective media.

Read: Ortiz Clears Air On Contract Talk, Sick Of “Haters”

The World Series MVP also held court with a few members of the media during batting practice at one of the fields, where he was his usual jovial-self. Ortiz talked a number of things, including his charity golf tourney in the Dominican. Papi spoke about the children he helps and visits at the hospital, where the proceeds from his golf tourney benefit.

John Henry arrived today, and said it was “conceivable” that the Red Sox would add a year on to Ortiz’s contract, and it’s something that could happen down here this spring.

What did I take from the day? It’s the same as always.

Ortiz needs to be motivated. Yes, he loves and lives the game but he needs more. So, he talks about his contract. He wants a deal while he’s a hot commodity(he reminded everyone he’s “one of the greatest to wear this uniform”) and is going for it.

You know what? I don’t mind it.

I will say it again: if David Ortiz is upset about his contract (or maybe more at the few critics who get on his case) but goes out and hits 30 home runs with 100 RBIs in the regular season, and then does his thing in the playoffs (hard to expect another .688 batting average like the World Series, but we can dream), then OK! Keep it up!

Isn’t that what you want as a Red Sox fan? He’s not hurting anyone. He’s not getting arrested. He’s not ticking off ownership (as Henry confirmed Wednesday) or his teammates, who called him “Cooperstown” in the World Series.

Years from now, when Ortiz is retired, do you think people will say: “Ortiz was a great player who won three World Series titles with the Red Sox and was maybe the greatest DH ever, but all he did was complain about his contract!”?

There a zero chance of people saying the last part. Zero.

Just let it be and enjoy one of the greatest all-around hitters in Red Sox history, and hope that it goes for many more contracts to come.

Roche On Gresh & Zolak: 

9:52 a.m.: It’s another nice day here in Fort Myers as the Red Sox pitchers and catchers continue workouts at the JetBlue complex.

There was no early morning media availability today, as the Red Sox players took part in a media training session. Lisa Levine, who runs a Cleveland-based sports-media coaching service, directed the session on how to deal with all that goes with the media.

The everyday players are also undergoing physicals today, and the team will have their first full squad workout on Thursday.

David Ortiz, who caused quite a stir on Tuesday, is expected to speak to the masses today. That should be very interesting, and entertaining.

8:40 a.m.: WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche checked in with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich from Fort Myers on Wednesday morning, where there’s plenty of chatter about David Ortiz and recent comments on his contract (again).

Ortiz has made it clear he would like another year or two added to the one year remaining on the two-year pact he signed prior to last season. On Tuesday, Ortiz lashed out against anyone criticizing him for those comments, telling the Boston Herald’s John Tomase “every time I talk about my contract, I earn it.”

Ortiz’s agent, Fernando Cuza, is with his client in Fort Myers, and with Red Sox owner John Henry heading down soon, Roche thinks an extension will get done this spring.

“I think it will get done in spring training, sooner rather than later,” said Roche. “John Henry is expected down here in the next few days, he’ll probably meet with Cuza, and they’ll probably come to some kind of quick agreement and David will be on his way in spring training.”

“Pedro Martinez used to do this as well… (Ortiz and Cuza) talk with the Red Sox and John Henry, and I’m sure something will get done. They’ll probably give him another year at $15 million or whatever it is, and keep going from there. David, as we know, every couple weeks, months has some things to say about his contract. As long as he puts up 30/100 or somewhere around there every year, I think everybody is fine with it.”

Is this even a distraction anymore for the Red Sox?

“In this situation, I have to believe his teammates are like ‘go for it, David.’ They started calling him ‘Cooperstown’ last postseason because of the numbers he is putting up. It’s not like he’s making A-Rod money,” he said. “It’s not like he’s asking for a five-year extension.”

Aside from Ortiz, Roche passed along a few observations from camp. He said both Jonny Gomes and Will Middlebrooks are swinging the bat well right out of the gate. Clay Buchholz looked “extremely strong, smooth and comfortable” in his bullpen on Tuesday and John Lackey looked like he did last season, but Roche said that Jon Lester was “all over the place.”

“It took him 15 or 16 pitches to throw a strike, so he wasn’t too happy with his bullpen yesterday.”

Roche also touched on the possibility of a six-man rotation given Buchholz’s injury concerns over the year. Listen to his full appearance on Toucher & Rich below:

Follow WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche on Twitter @RochieWBZ.

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