Papi doing it Boston Strong
Ortiz slugs 17th postseason homer, expected to play first base in Game 3
BOSTON -- David Ortiz stood in front of his locker and took his time getting dressed. He slipped a braided silver necklace around his neck and matching bracelets around his thick wrists, adding a high-tech watch to the ensemble. Finally, he stuffed two cell phones into the pockets of his grey slacks.
The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 -- all "even Steven" Ortiz said -- as it shifts to Busch Stadium in St. Louis for the next three games beginning Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET air time/8:07 p.m. ET first pitch on FOX.
The Dominican native is Senor Octubre and Big Papi lives for this.
"This is what you get prepared for all year 'round," Ortiz said as he moved from one end of the Red Sox clubhouse to the other and an easy escape out the door. "I don't play for July. I play for this right now."
Does he ever. The homer over the Green Monster off Cards rookie starter and winner Michael Wacha was the 17th for Ortiz in 78 postseason games, all of them coming in the 69 he's played since he joined the Red Sox in 2003 as arguably the top free-agent signing of all time.
Ortiz has hit three of those 17 in the World Series, including two on successive nights in this Fall Classic. His two-run shot in Wednesday night's Game 1 contributed add-on runs to Boston's 8-2 win. And he could have had a grand slam had St. Louis right fielder Carlos Beltran not reached over the fence into the bullpen to make a great catch. Ortiz had to settle for a sacrifice fly instead, giving him five RBIs in the two games and 59 in the postseason overall.
He's among the most prolific designated hitters of all time in the playoffs, but with the scene shifting to the National League park, both teams will lose the use of the DH.
"It's likely that in Game 3 he'll be at first base at this point, just taking a quick look at it," Red Sox manager John Farrell said after Thursday's game. "How we go from there, we'll take it day to day. We're going to lose one of the mid-order bats and that's understood going in. But still, David's in a pretty good place right now offensively."
No kidding. The Red Sox will have to sit either Ortiz or regular first baseman Mike Napoli, but it's probable Ortiz won't miss any of them. He's the mainstay and the only player on the current roster to play in all 10 of the club's World Series games since 2004. The Red Sox swept St. Louis in '04 and Colorado in '07 and had a nine-game World Series winning streak snapped by the Cards on Thursday night.
Ortiz did everything he could to prevent that, even adding a walk and a single. He's 4-for-6 in the two games with the sac fly and a walk. Farrell said beforehand that there's not much he can do to get both Ortiz and Napoli in the three games.
"The outside view might be to put Mike Napoli behind the plate, but we wouldn't do that," Farrell said. "One or the other is going to sit, unfortunately."
Napoli has a degenerative hip problem and hasn't caught a game for the Red Sox all year in his first season in Boston. Ortiz is a .281 playoff hitter with a .388 on-base percentage and .929 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). To that end, he said he'd make sure he'd bring his glove with him on the plane to St. Louis.
"I got it, I got it," Ortiz said with a laugh.
He's played 25 games at first base -- all Interleague affairs on the road -- during the six years since the 2007 World Series.
"Hey, you know, I'm going to do whatever my manager tells me to do," he said. "I'll just go out there. Wish me good luck."
|Barry Bonds *||S.F.||Ana.||2002|
|Hank Bauer *||NYY||Mil.||1958|
|Mickey Cochrane||Phi. (AL)||Stl.||1930|
|Jimmie Foxx||Phi. (AL)||Chc.||1929|
Fat chance. Ortiz, at 37, is obviously the same big-game player. Before the game, the Red Sox brought back members of the 2004 team that won the first World Series title for Boston in 86 years. Pedro Martinez, Trot Nixon and Derek Lowe were in attendance. Hours before the game, Lowe was found outside the ballpark on Yawkey Way, signing autographs and taking pictures with beaming fans.
The point is, those guys are all retired and Ortiz is out there carrying on.
"The thing is when I got here I was a baby and they were older," Ortiz said.
Ortiz, of course, is no baby now. He seemed undaunted by the prospects of a long series and the loss in Game 2. After all, Ortiz just had another big night in a series of big postseason nights.
"We've got to go out on Saturday night and play better," Ortiz said sagely.
Asked what the key is to having so much success this time of year, Ortiz shrugged and radiated that Big Papi smile.
"My key? I'll let you know when the World Series is over," he said. "I'm out."
And with that, he finally bolted out the clubhouse door, bling and all.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.