FORT MYERS, Fla. There was a time this offseason when David Ortiz wasnt sure hed be back for his 10th season with the Red Sox.
Yeah, Im not going to lie to you, yeah, he said. At one point I thought I was done here. But like I say, our front office they got caught into a lot of things this offseason and at one point I was like, OK, I guess Im not a priority to you. And thats the way it looked like to me at one point.
But my agents they explain to me whats going on and this team was looking for a GM and manager, all that stuff, and it take them some time to put it together. And after that they went to the players, which I think it was a little crazy of a time to do so. But they did. And Im here.
After accepting arbitration in December, though, Ortiz knew hed be back for at least one season. Although he settled just before going to an arbitration hearing on Feb. 13, the process was new to him.
Ive been a free-agent before, he said. The arbitration thing I learned some things about it. Its a little crazy. They were making a big deal about me going to arbitration. The night before I saw all the big dogs down there and I said, What are your guys doing here? They went like, Well, this case is one of the cases you dont see too often and we have to be here for that. I said, 'Oh, OK.'
I didnt do anything. You have your group that works on that and they let you know how its going be. They told me not to wear my earrings in front of the judge and I said, 'Expletive did I kill somebody or something? What does it have to do with being in front of the judge?' 'You dont want to have that much bling-bling and this and that. See, now were starting on the wrong foot.' What? I used to live with my earrings on."
Large diamond studs aside, Ortiz said there are no hard feelings after accepting a one-year, 14.575 million deal. The Sox had earlier offered him a two-year, 18 million contract.
No man, said Ortiz. I want to have a multi-year contract because this is where I want to be. Ive been multi-year before. Its not like I shut it down or anything. My best year was when I have a long-term and thats because I didnt have to worry about a contract. All I have to worry about is playing baseball. Sometimes people get the wrong idea about things that I say. I dont care. Ive got 15 years in the big leagues and I think I earn every single penny that I have.
Ortiz, who said he never talked with principal owner John Henry this offseason, is not sure why they didnt settle for a multi-year deal.
I dont know, he said. Thats a question that you got to ask them.
Ortiz, who turned 36 in November, figures his age might have worked against him.
Probably, he said. I guess Im like the wine. Well see. But Im happy with my contract and happy being here. I take a lot of pride for the fans here. I think 100 percent sure what motivated me to play the game to do my thing out there is when you walk out there and you have all those people cheering for you. That has no price. When Im walking to the plate at Fenway and I hear all these fans and hear a lot of good things. Some guys play in front of five, 7,000 fans and on the field theres a huge difference. Im used to this, the baseball fans that want you do well. Im used to that.
His position as a designated hitter may have worked against him, too.
Maybe it worked against me, he said. I dont have the opportunity to make 25 million. Everybody needs a power hitter under their wings. Thats what Ive been doing for years here. Youve got limitations because you dont play in the field. The hardest part of the game to deal with is hitting.
But, he said nothing will change for him, playing on a one-year contract.
Ive been playing on a one year contract for the past few years, right? he said. And of course you want not to have to worry about contracts. That aint for everybody, know what Im saying. That aint for everyone. And I try my best to sign for the next few years. It didnt work out. But Im happy with what I got. Im not going to lie to you. Im happy with it. I want to get over with it in the very beginning. They were busy at doing a lot of things. I understand that. But Im back, Im here at least for another year, and like I always tell you guys Im going to try my best. I always play to change things around when Im on the field and I think Ive been a worthy person for this organization for years. And thats what matters to me.