BOSTON -- Through all the makeovers and the shuffling, through the good years and the bad, through the managerial hirings and firings, David Ortiz stands as the one Red Sox link to the team's 2004 world championship run.
It was then that Ortiz first gained the reputation as a terrific post-season performer, when he twice lifted the team to wins in their historic ALCS comeback against the New York Yankees.
Saturday, in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Tampa Bay Rays, Ortiz proved that he has not run out of October magic.
Already the franchise's record-holder when it comes to post-season homers, Ortiz added to his total -- and his legacy -- with two homers in the Red Sox' 7-4 win over the Rays.
One came in the first inning, serving as an introduction. The second one came in the eighth, acting as a punctuation.
It was, remarkably, the first time that Ortiz had hit two homers in the same post-season game.
"When he gets two home runs,'' noted John Farrell, "things are going to revolve around him. I can't say enough about him...We're capable of scoring runs in a couple of ways, but when you can score it in one swing of the bat, as he's done many times over, he's a huge threat for us.''
The two-homer night might have been a first, but it didn't come as much of a surprise to Ortiz apparently.
"He was telling some guys before the game,'' revealed Will Middlebrooks, "that he was going to hit two homers and he did. That's pretty impressive. A couple of us heard him say it and Rossy (David Ross) and I looked at each other after he hit the second one and I was like, 'He said he was going to do that, didn't he?' And (Ross) was like, 'He did.' ''
Ross, meanwhile, played it somewhat coy.
"Yeah, (he made a prediction),'' said Ross, "but I'm not going to tell you what it was, because that just starts all kind of drama. I'm not going to share that. But he lived up it, I'll tell you that.''
Prodded, Ross added: "He came in told me, 'I wore my A game today, because I'm going to be doing a lot of interviews after the game. He wore his best clothes. Only Papi can do that. That's the best feeling I could have had. It put my mind at ease. I thought, 'I've got nothing to worry about.' ''
Ross was asked how often Ortiz makes such bold predictions: "Zero. You don't hear that from superstars. You don't hear that.''
Across the clubhouse, Jonny Gomes had a different take.
"He says that all the time,'' said Gomes with a straight face. "And I believe him every time.''
Even Ortiz was a bit cagey about what he had said and to whom.
"We faced Price many times,'' said Ortiz, "so you've got to make up your mind (about how to approach him). You can't let a pitcher change your mind. And I stuck with the plan and it worked.''
Did it ever. The first one, in the first inning, landed behind the Red Sox bullpen, where not even rookie right fielder Wil Myers could have been confused.
The second, in the eighth, hugged the foul pole in right before settling into the seats and sending Fenway into a celebration.
The homers were his 13th and 14th in the playoffs during his career and just the second time he's ever hit two homers in the same game off a lefty, having victimized Oakland's Tommy Millone on April 30, 2012.
The amazing thing -- prediction or not -- was that Ortiz went into Saturday having never hit a homer off Price in his career, regular season or playoffs, covering 37 at-bats. It represented the most homerless at-bats off any lefthanded pitcher.
The second homer, however, was not without its controversy. Ortiz stood in the box before starting his home run trot, and that angered Price.
"I'm sure he'll tell you he wanted to see if it was fair or foul,'' fumed Price after the game. "I knew it was gone.''
Told of Price's comments as he was leaving the clubhouse, Ortiz was incredulous.
"When I hit that ball, it looked like it might stay fair by this much,'' said Ortiz holding his hands less than a foot apart, shaking his head in disbelief over what Price had said. "That's why I stayed in the box.''
Minutes earlier, when talking to a group of reporters, Ortiz had praised Price and revealed that he had congratulated him Thursday, when the two crossed paths near the weight room, for his complete-game effort in Monday's tie-breaker in Texas.
"That guys is special, special,'' said Ortiz. "No doubt.''
On Saturday night, however, Ortiz was his usual post-season self, and that, as history has shown, is more than special.