Big reliable: Sox explain Ortiz power in own words

Big reliable: Sox explain Ortiz power in own words
October 18, 2013, 12:30 pm
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(AP Photo)

David Ortiz’s game-tying grand slam in Game 2 changed the momentum of the ALCS with one swing of the bat. The Red Sox had lost Game 1, were trailing 5-1 in the eighth inning of Game 2, and, facing three games at Comerica Park, were staring into the abyss of playoff defeat. But Ortiz once again stepped up when the pressure was highest.

From outfielders to pitchers, veterans to young players, the Red Sox gave their take on Ortiz’s prowess during the course of the regular season, which is on display as they are one win away from advancing to the World Series.

Jon Lester: A pitcher’s perspective

“Obviously David is a really good hitter, but I don't think that's just David. I think what makes David special is what he's able to do within an at bat. He's able to kind of figure out within an at bat how guys are pitching him and then make adjustments within that at bat. That's what I think is very difficult as a pitcher to gameplan against. Obviously he's a really good hitter so that in itself is a challenge. But he's kind of like Pedey (Dustin Pedroia). He can make the adjustments, he can foul off tough pitches. That's the big thing, the guys that are able to reach that pitch that you want to make at that time to get them out and they're able to foul it off. That's what makes him so tough.”

Jarrod Saltalamacchia: From catching against to playing with Ortiz

“Being a designated hitter is tough. Everybody thinks it’s easy; you’ve just got to walk up and think about hitting. But that’s the thing – that’s all you have to worry about so sometimes your mind can play on you and you think and overthink. That’s what David’s good at, he’s good at separating at bat to at bat. He knows every pitcher. The only two guys I’ve ever seen like that are him and Adrian Gonzalez. They remember guys they faced 10 years ago and what they pitched on which pitch count. That’s what makes him so good. He knows what those guys have done and what they’re trying to do with a man on second, so he can just sit on that pitch and just do what he’s supposed to do. In 2011, he talked to me on the plane. He sat down next to me and told me I’m a great hitter and just a bunch of positive feedback. It’s strange to have a future Hall of Famer I’m playing with sit down next to me and take the time and talk to me. We’ve had those talks and he’s a different hitter. Sometimes some of what he says can’t apply to me because it’s just so easy for him to do that. But he’s just unbelievable. The confidence part of it, he’s really helped me out with it. I caught against him and you know he’s a good hitter, he’s got power, and different parks play different. I remember we had Tommy Hunter was starting and I was catching (on the Texas Rangers). The scouting report said you can throw a changeup, hard in, all this stuff. Hard in on him, we get to a two-strike count and try to go changeup and he hit a homer. I was like, ‘Alright, well let’s not throw a changeup anymore.’ He’s such a good hitter that there’s no set way to get him out. You’ve got to throw different pitches, different locations, and just hope that he gets himself out.”

Mike Carp: One lefty hitter to another

“He's a special person just in general. His abilities are greater than all of ours. His knowledge and facing guys, he's been around the game so long, and understanding how a guy gets to a certain point and how he's going to attack that guy, it's really special to watch him and ask him questions and be able to learn from him. Just to watch the way he approaches the game is good for someone like me, a power-hitting lefty. I definitely take advantage of taking as many notes as I can if I'm in the cage with him. We try to simplify everything in hitting. It's all about staying short and compact, sticking with your plan, your approach. That's the thing, if he has a plan and that's his approach, nothing's going to get him how out of it. He's going to stick with it and that's why he's so successful. He doesn't let a pitcher control his at bat. He has his plan and he's sticking to it and he's waiting for the pitcher to make his mistake. It's very amazing to see him to do that and never deviate from that.”

Jonny Gomes: Striving to reach Ortiz’s caliber

“This is where he is now in his career; I think it’s a situation we’d love to get to. He doesn’t really need to study the game, the whole thing revolves around him. If he’s hot, you’re not getting him out. It doesn’t matter who’s on the mound, it doesn’t matter the pitching change, it doesn’t matter if they shift him. When he’s on, it’s a wrap, it’s over. We would love to get to that point, which is Hall of Fame caliber. He knows his strengths, he sticks to his strengths, he’s got one thing on his mind. I’ve been fortunate and unfortunate to have bounced around, and I’ve played with some high caliber players and possibly future Hall of Famers. Those guys really stand out and you think they have some information that’s just so valuable, but some can explain it, some can’t explain it. At the end of the day, all you have to do is watch him and that’s a million words. Just the fact that you can’t call it a knack, dude just flat out gets big hits. You’re down by two, he’s hitting homers. It’s not like we just strung together a bunch of doubles, you get Papi up and he’s going to take care of it in one swing. And that’s so hard, it really is so hard. There’s literally no one even remotely close to what he’s done over these years, I mean remotely close, which shows how hard it is. You’ve seen some people’s struggles on other teams in the DH role which makes him stand out that much more. There’s no DH in Little League, there’s no DH in college, he’s been doing it forever but it was new for him when he started. It would be easier for a position change, but this is something you can’t work on. You can only work on it during the game. It is pretty special that he’s done it.”

Shane Victorino: In ‘awe’ of the consistency

“When you go out on the field, you talk about his bat, the way he approaches the game, how he studies it. Having the opportunity to talk to him about that stuff, from one at bat to another, he makes his adjustments. He’ll say, ‘Ok you got me the first time but I’m going to get you the next time.’ He’s focused in on his first at bat, what they did to get him out, and he says they’re not going to get me out again that way. That, to me, is what makes him special. To do what he does, being the DH, being the guy who gets an at bat every two innings or who knows who long, it could be 15 minutes, it could be an hour. I’ve always said being a DH is the toughest thing to do in sports. If I had to DH I don’t think I could do it because you have so much time in between to think about things. For him, the way he goes about it, I’m in awe because even playing at the highest level, you look at what he does and it’s just like this is a step above. How he does it consistently over such a long period of time is what makes it amazing to me. We’ll talk about what he watched, understanding ‘This guy got me out on a fastball away. I went out of my element when I swung at my ball away. Next time if he puts that ball out there or throws that same pitch, I’m going to hit it to left field.’ And he’ll go out there and do it. The brilliancy of what he does and how he goes about it is what makes it special.


Will Middlebrooks: Advice from a game-changing veteran

“He knows the game in general. That's from the experience of being around for so long and being through so many situations that he knows what to do. He's been through every situation so many times that he knows what to expect and he has a good idea of what's going to happen. That doesn't have anything to do with the pitchers, just the game in general. But as far as the pitchers go, he's hit off just about every guy in the league except for the young guys. That's something that's good for me as a young guy. If I've faced a guy once or twice, I don't know his tendencies, I don't know his out pitch, and he can say, 'Hey, this guy likes do this.' If he sees something or wants to tell you something, he will seek you out. He's helped me a ton over the last couple of years. My biggest thing was in my struggles I had, he would come to me and reassure me that I'm a good player. He's gone through the same things more than once and (told me) it's nothing to worry about and that everything will be fine. That's a very big thing with him and he will tell you, 'You control the at bat.' It's pretty easy to do when you're Big Papi and he has the resume he has, obviously he's going to control a lot of things. But that's hard for a young player to come in and control an at bat against a veteran pitcher because it's just an experience thing. But I think you can override that with confidence and results.”