Papi pounds Orioles; Pedroia gets in swing
David Ortiz came into the day hitting .170 with no homers, four RBIs, 14 strikeouts, a .255 OBP and a .191 slugging percentage.
In other words, he came into the day with the scrutiny of Red Sox Nation all around him. What is the matter with Big Papi?
It was a New York Times writer that broached the subject with Red Sox manager Terry Francona before the game. And Tito, per usual, was fiercely loyal to his veteran.
“I think right now, you’re seeing a guy that’s in between. Fastballs getting by him and he’s ahead of the breaking ball. Hitting is such a .. it can be intricate when it’s going bad and it can be easy when it’s going good, or simplified. When you hear every hitter … just about … when they’re going really well, they’ll tell you the same thing. ‘Boy, I’m just seeing the ball good.’
And they don’t think about a whole lot else.
“When you’re not going good, you can see where the umpire is behind the pitcher, you see the resin bag, you see the scoreboard, you see the camera, you see everything but the ball. And everything looks fast. And once you get to a position and you can hit a ball and you’re in a good position and you square it up, everything seems to slow down. I don’t know exactly why that is. We’ve all been through it and it can be awful and it can be really good. And just as awful, it usually gets that good. That’s kind of the, I don’t know, the uniqueness of hitting is. Guys get to their level. They just don’t always do it in the most consistent manner.”
Then the questioner wondered if Ortiz, because he is approaching his mid 30s, could be well, heading for his own type of Heartbreak Hill.
“Oh. Oohhh. You would be ahead of me on that one,” Francona said. “I think last year, his start, it wasn’t good. Whatever his first 50 at-bats were, weren’t good. I think I was answering similar questions last year at this time. I don’t even know how to answer that. I think he’s got so much more offense left in him. He’s just having a tough time right now. I remember last year watching a game on TV and the announcers were wondering aloud why Carlos Delgado hadn’t been let go yet. They were pretty vocal about it. That’s probably you guys are doing your jobs and we’ll try to do ours. That’s just the way it is.”
And wouldn’t you know, Ortiz drilled a double off the wall today and a two-run triple to center.
I wondered if Francona would sit him this morning given the early start time and the fact the Red Sox were facing a 6-foot-10 lefty in Mark Hendrickson. But Francona thought that challenge would be good for Ortiz’s timing, and it wound up working out.
At any rate, Ortiz is a player who figures to be under the microscope for much of the year. But if today is any indication, there are still some hits left in that bat.
Speaking of revived hitters, Dustin Pedroia looks as if he is ready to resume his annual laster show. The little second baseman banged out four hits today and is now hitting .286.