• July 25, 2008
Ortiz returns to the Red Sox lineup after missing 45 games with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist. "It's like making a huge trade at the deadline," says Boston outfielder J.D. Drew. "His impact will be immediate."
• Aug. 5
After going 10 for 38 with one homer in his first 10 games, Ortiz tells reporters he's bothered by a clicking sound in his wrist when he swings. "It gets in your head," he says. "Should I take another swing? Should I hold it?"
• Oct. 19
The Red Sox lose to the Rays in Game 7 of the ALCS, ending a disappointing season in which Ortiz slugged .507 with an on-base percentage of .369—his lowest numbers since joining Boston in '03—and batted .186 in the playoffs. Says Ortiz, "I tried my best, but it's not going to be roses and flowers all the time."
• Feb. 16, 2009
Ortiz arrives in spring training and pronounces himself healthy. "I'm fine, my hand is doing good," he says.
• April 17 (.176, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs)
The 230-pound Ortiz gets teased in the clubhouse by Red Sox Hall of Famer Jim Rice: "You're supposed to hit your weight, you know." Ortiz laughs, goes to his locker and returns with a T-shirt. "I don't know if you know how to read," he says to Rice, "but read this." The shirt's message: IT'S NOT HOW YOU START, IT'S HOW YOU FINISH.
• April 20 (.196, 0 HRs, 6 RBIs)
Ortiz fires back at a growing number of columnists and talk-show callers suggesting he's washed up and the Red Sox should cut ties with him. "I'm not done," he says. "I'm going to hit, so the people need to stop panicking."
• May 4 (.208, 0 HRs, 12 RBIs)
Ortiz admits that his slump has taken a psychological toll. "[I need to] clean up my head and go out there and not try to go too crazy," he tells The New York Times, adding that the ordeal is "something that the baseball gods want to teach me," to show him that hitting is "not as easy as you make it look, big boy."
• May 10 (.224, 0 HRs, 14 RBIs)
After ESPN cameras catch him screaming with frustration in the dugout, Ortiz says he receives more than 50 calls and text messages from fellow major leaguers telling him to stay strong. "[Carlos] Delgado and I, we talked for like an hour," he says, referring to the Mets' first baseman, who endured a horrible slump in April 2008 and rebounded to finish with 38 home runs. "Last year, when he was going through all that, I was one of the guys really worried about his situation."
• May 14 (.208, 0 HRs, 15 RBIs)
After going 0 for 7 and tying a team record by stranding 12 runners against the Angels, a disgusted Ortiz tells reporters, "I'm sorry guys, I don't feel like talking now.... Just put down, 'Papi stinks.'"
• May 15
Manager Terry Francona benches Ortiz for a three-game series in Seattle, saying his DH needs a break to clear his head: "It looked like he had been fighting his pillow."