Big Papi's big slump
NEW YORK -- Red Sox star David Ortiz is dressing quietly in the corner of the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, hoping nobody asks him about his hitting, which borders on nonexistent now. Ortiz is fresh off another dreary 1-for-5 performance in Boston's 15-9 defeat to the rival Yankees. While continuing his efforts toward a hasty exit after a four-hour game he mentions, glumly, "I've been talking about my hitting all day.''
But that doesn't keep Ortiz from talking more.
"If I get frustrated right now, I'm f-----,'' he tells SI.com. "I got to keep hitting, got to keep working. And it will come. It will come to Papi.''
So far, it isn't even close to coming. Among baseball's 203 qualifiers, Ortiz is dead last in batting average (.121), slugging percentage (.172) and OPS (.411).
For baseball's best clutch hitter over the past several seasons, it's practically the triple crown of ineptitude.
"Keep on swinging, keep on working,'' Ortiz says to explain his resolve to fix probably the biggest hitting slump of his career, and easily the biggest since he became a megastar in Boston.
"Try to keep on fighting, bro,'' continues Ortiz, who is 7-for-58. "Keep working, keep working, keep working. Next thing you know, it's on bro.''
In the meantime, everyone is wondering when he will be on again, when he will be Big Papi again. Lately, he's been Big Popout.
"Everybody's going crazy,'' Ortiz remarks about the headlines he's creating by making all these outs.
This isn't his time, anyway, Ortiz explains. April's a time to learn, to see the pitchers, what they have and what they'll try.
He hardly ever has a big April, he points out. Maybe once, he said, maybe twice. And it's true: Ortiz is a .267 career hitter in the season's traditional opening month, and his Aprils since coming to Boston have been nothing special, ranging from .212 to .301.
"The way [fans and media] talk, it's like [they think] the pitchers put the ball on a tee, [and say] "Hit it Papi,''' Ortiz says. "They're trying to get you out.''
That they continue to get him out is not going to get him down, he swears. Although, he didn't appear especially gleeful after his last at-bat Wednesday ended in a foul out to the catcher. He trudged back to the dugout, bat in hand, and keeps right on trudging. He paced back and forth in the dugout, bat still in hand.
He may be out. but he's not down, he insists.
Keep working, keep swinging. That's his motto.
"I fight. That's my personality. I fight. Me and [Jason] Giambi. We were born to do things. Nobody can take it away from us. That's what I told Giambi. We'll get it done. People just need to relax.''