Ortiz joins Williams, Yaz in Sox 400-homer club

Ortiz joins Williams, Yaz in Sox 400-homer club
August 17, 2014, 12:45 am
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BOSTON - David Ortiz did not rest on his laurels Saturday night at Fenway Park.

Ortiz cracked his 400th career home run in a Red Sox uniform, a two-run blast to center field, in the 3rd inning against the Astros.

But he didn't stop there. In his very next at-bat, Ortiz began his march toward No. 500.

He just barely wrapped one around the bottom of Pesky's pole in the 5th inning, another two-run homer, to cut the Astros lead to 6-5. The Sox would take the lead later that inning, and never look back.

The home runs were his 27th and 28th of the season. He added a two-run double later in the game to give him six RBI on the night, tying a career-high for the fifth time.

Ortiz is the 25th player in MLB history with 400 home runs for one team, and the 3rd Red Sox along with some guys named Ted Williams (521) and Carl Yastrzemski (452).

Ortiz joked that being among those named made him feel old, before he told us how he really felt.

"It's an honor to be up there mentioned with those legends," Ortiz said. "Legendary people that did an amazing job and obviously played for the Red Sox. Legendary, legendary. You come to this organization to play and you're not expecting your name to be mentioned next to those guys, but it happens. You do what you gotta do and that's the only way you get there."

Sox manager John Farrell was quick to point out that not only has Ortiz joined that exclusive club, but he did so much faster than Williams or Yastrzemski did. Ortiz has played 1,629 games for the Sox. Williams retired having played 2,292 games while Yastrzemski played a whopping 3,308.

"And when you consider how many fewer games he's done it in, it's really remarkable," Farrell said. "He's in rare company with the two other guys he's now linked to. And to see it in roughly 60-percent of the games with one, and almost half the games of the other, it's amazing what he's been able to do here."

There's no way Ortiz can remember all 401 of his home runs with the Sox, but he does remember his first one. It came all the way back on April 27, 2003 in Anaheim. Ortiz, who did not start in the game, came on in the 14th inning as a pinch hitter for Jeremy Giambi. Leading off the inning, Ortiz put one into the Angels bullpen in left-center. Jason Varitek would also go yard in the next at-bat, and the Sox won, 6-4.

Little did Ortiz know he'd trot around the bases 400 more times in his Sox career - up to this point, anyways.

'No idea to be honest with you," Ortiz said. "Like I said, you play the game you just go through the flow because you don't know how long you're going to play. You don't know what your career is going to be like. But the one thing that you can control is just come in, play hard, play the game, and let God just take care of the rest of it."

Ortiz was the young guy back then. Now, he's got a team full of young guys looking up to him. One of those players is Brock Holt, who grew up watching Ortiz and now has a front row seat.

"It's unbelievable," Holt said. "He's one of the best hitters to play. Being able to watch him in the cage, BP, how he goes about his business every day. For guys like me and younger guys, it helps us out a lot. It's fun to see a guy like that, you know how hard he works and how much he enjoys it.

That's Ortiz paying it forward. He recalls coming on to a Red Sox team "jam-packed with super stars" when he first arrived.

"You're talking about Nomar [Garciaparra], Manny [Ramirez], [Jason] Varitek, Pedro [Martinez], D-Lowe [Derek Lowe]," Ortiz said. We had a lot of guys that they pretty much want to get things done the right way and you just follow them."

Being around proven professionals allowed Ortiz to shape the player and person he wanted to be.

"That was great, that was great. Because I was a guy that was always searching for ideas on how to get my game better," he said. "You watch these guys, their work ethic at the time, and it was unbelievable."

Who knows, maybe years from now one of these younger players - whether it's Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Mookie Betts, or Holt - will recall their first years on the team, and point to a certain DH who showed them that regardless of the team's record or their personal performances, there's always something to play for.

"The thing about him is he's the same guy no matter what," Holt said. "He could be hitting .400, or hitting whatever. But he's always the same guy, always does the same thing, has the same routine, and goes about it the way any player should. A guy with his stature and his stats, it's good for the young guys to be able to see that. He didn't get there because of nothing. Obviously he's really talented, but he's put in a lot of work and obviously he's a lot of fun to watch."

In a season that can't be summed up with the word "fun", Saturday night was certainly an exception.