Sunday, April 3, 2011

Off to a history making start, Ortiz silences doubters

David Ortiz probably isn't happy that the Red Sox have yet to get a win in the young 2011 season. Even so, there's a couple of reasons for him not to get too bummed out about.

So far, Ortiz has started fast and he's made history in the process
As detailed in his player preview Oriz belongs to a dying breed -- the Designated Hitter. Yet even if the DH is going the way of the dinosaurs, Big Papi solidified his spot as one of the best to ever play that position by passing Edgar Martinez with the most RBIs by a DH in MLB history Saturday night against the Texas Rangers.

“That’s something when they mention your name with the caliber of Edgar Martinez and those guys. It makes you feel good,” Ortiz told the Boston Herald. “I’ve put a lot of hard work together. Those things, I don’t think about it right now while I’m playing. One day I’ll sit down and look at it. Right now, I’ll focus on trying to win the game and keep on rolling that way.”

The big question with Ortiz entering this year was whether or not he could fend off another slow start. The past two years he's struggled to do what he's paid to do -- hit. In 2009, it wasn't until June that he hit his first homer and last year it took him until May.

This year he's hit a home run in each of the first two games of the season. That's a first for Ortiz in a storied career.

Though the Red Sox have lost their past two games, it's been Big Papi that first brought his team within reach of a victory. In the opener, he hit a game-tying homer in the eight inning off Darren Oliver. Saturday night, he hit a two-run homer that gave the Sox the lead in the second. Then, two innings later, he drove in the MLB record RBI with a ground out to first, which also tied up the game 3-3.

Avoiding a slow start was something that was clearly on Ortiz's mind entering the season. He made a conscientious effort to see more pitches in spring training, embarking on the long road trips around Florida the other veterans avoided. His efforts have clearly paid off.

“That’s good because I think it will help him relax,” manager Terry Francona said. “I know how much he was pointing toward April. Let him get his legs under him, and hopefully he’ll whack a few more.”

After hearing fans and media members call him washed up in the beginning of the past two seasons, the fast start has to make the old slugger feel good.

“You play the game and things happen," said Ortiz. "It’s not like I tried to start the season slow [the past two years]. Things happen and you just try to get ready for the season and turn the page. I think I know I call attention because of the kind of player I’ve been as long as I’ve been here. People expect me to do well.  Sometimes things don’t work out the way you expect and you just have to keep on fighting.”

Ortiz has said he won't be retiring, that he still has a lot left in him. If he continues to perform like he has in the first two games, it'll be hard to argue with him.

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