Red Sox DH
WHEN BIG PAPI
broke in with the Twins in the late 1990s, he got to know Minnesota great Kirby
Puckett, who Ortiz says served as a valuable mentor to him. Upon arriving in
Boston in 2003, Ortiz wanted Puckett's number 34. "Every time I look at
that number, I think about him," says Ortiz of the former outfielder
(below), who died after a stroke in March. "He cared so much for us. One
time when I was struggling, Kirby sat me down. He kept telling me what I needed
to do to get better ... to keep fighting and never give up. I can't believe
he's not here anymore."
have given me a nickname," the light-hitting backstop says with a chuckle.
"One-five stands for One Man, Five Tools." The tools refer to a
baseball scout's indices (ability to hit, hit with power, run, throw and
field), and with just seven career homers and three career stolen bases in
parts of four seasons, Laird knows he's not quite all that. He used to wear
number 6--an upside-down tribute, he says, to Ted Williams's 9--but it was
snagged from him when outfielder Brad Wilkerson came over in a trade before
last season. "No negotiation, he just took it," Laird says. "But 15
fits me good."
WHAT ELSE would
an Orr from Ontario wear? Pete's not related to Bobby, the Bruins great, but
has worn the number since youth hockey. "My teammates always wanted me to
wear number 4," says Pete, whose dad often showed him film of Bobby Orr
(left) and whose middle name, like Bobby's, is Gordon. Bobby finds Pete's
imitation flattering--"I'm honored if I had a positive influence on
someone," he has said. Pete, meanwhile, says he got his 4 before asking for
it. "The Braves said they gave it to me because it was the lowest number
available, that it had nothing to do with [Bobby]."