Ortiz: Red Sox need to re-embrace the '04 approach

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Ortiz: Red Sox need to re-embrace the '04 approach

BOSTON -- It only took David Ortiz a little while spent with his 2004 teammates Tuesday night to figure out what the Red Sox need to do for 2013.

It's not about players, Ortiz determined; it's about team. And it takes leadership, which Ortiz hinted the current Sox lack.

"Tuesday night something happened to me,'' said Ortiz. "Every time I looked at somebody, I kind of had some highlight, some flash from '04 that that person was responsible for. Tuesday night was the first time I noticed that every group was led by a guy. You know what I mean?

"Like the bullpen was led by Mike Timlin and Keith Foulke. Those guys wanted to make sure that all the young guys followed them, that the bullpen was ready for whatever they said. They had time to go out there, time to prepare themselves . . . they had their own group and they protected each other. On the road, you'd see the bullpen guys together.

"Same with the starting pitchers. We'd have Pedro Martinez, we had Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield handle whatever came up with starting pitchers.''

Ortiz recalled Martinez instructing Bronson Arroyo and other younger pitchers on the staff to change their between-start routine in midseason in order to preserve their strength.

"Pedro was looking out for his teammates,'' Ortiz said. "As a veteran, he was saying, 'As a young player, listen to what I have to say.' And next thing you know, boom, we're where we have to be.''

Asked where the veteran presence and leadership has gone in the present-day Red Sox clubhouse, Ortiz said: "It's not here right now. It's not here, to be honest with you.

"But I think we can get back there. It's not something you have to kill anyone to get there. It's just a matter of having veteran guys in charge.

"That's something that wasn't planned. It was Mike Timlin saying about the bullpen, 'Hey, I got this.' It was Curt, Wake, saying, 'Starting pitchers, I got this.' Hitting? Me and Manny Ramirez, we were in charge of the responsibility, the production and everybody around us fed off that.''

Setting the tone, Ortiz added, starts in the manager's office and no one understood that better than Terry Francona, the 2004 manager.

"Tito used to have me in his office when I was doing good and when I was doing bad,'' recalled Ortiz. "When I was doing bad, to remind me who I was; when I was doing good, to remind me who I am. And he used to be in the office with players, left and right, talking, going back and forth.

"That, to me, I thought was great because the guy built up my confidence. But at the same time, he didn't just build it up -- he wanted me to keep it at that level.

"Him talking to me was like my Dad talking to me. Whether he was mad at me or happy for me, I would take it the same way. Me and Tito, we never argued or anything. At some point, things got a little rough and he did what he was supposed to do. He'd say, 'I gotta make a move, I've got to change things.' ''

Asked if the Sox had the proper personalities to get back to the 2004 approach, Ortiz quickly responded: "Some of them. We need more.''

Ortiz added that the Sox need more talent, but as recent history has shown, not just any talent will work in Boston.

"We need guys who can come here and shock the world,'' he said. "Guys who come in and say, 'Okay Boston, you're a tough town . . . Here I am. Let me see. Let me try this.'

"You've got to be able to handle it. These days, you're not a baseball player, you're on TV like a movie star. So there's things that come with that.''

The Sox can't be turned around by bringing in one or two stars. Instead, the team needs to have a full roster to contribute.

"Every single person in the clubhouse needs to try to do something every day to win a ballgame,'' he said. "That's just responsibility. When I go to hit, I want to change the game. I want to make sure I put my team in a better situation. If you have 25 guys going at it like that, that's how you win the World Series.

"Tuesday night, I saw that. I saw it. I saw this guy that nobody knows, came in and played good defense. The guy who pinch-hit, nobody knows him, got the hit to win the game. The guy that comes in to face a right-hander and got his ass out. Those little things, 25 guys, are what you need.''

Ortiz said "there are some guys out there,'' who could help fix the Sox in a hurry.

"To give you a name,'' said Ortiz, "a guy I love to watch play, Michael Bourne. That guy's fun to watch. Let's say you have Cody Ross re-signed and Ells Jacoby Ellsbury -- I would have Cody playing left, and have Bourne playing right field (with Ellsbury in center). Now you have the whole outfield covered.

"He's going to hit at the top of the lineup, he's going to get on base, a good hitter, he knows what he's doing, plays defense. Guys like that, they make a difference everywhere they go.''

Ortiz's winning HR fulfills his promise to young fan

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Ortiz's winning HR fulfills his promise to young fan

David Ortiz's exploits with the Red Sox over the years can easily be described as "Ruthian."

That description became more fitting and Big Papi's legend grew Friday night when Ortiz made like the Babe by promising and delivering a home run to young fan named Maverick. 

Ortiz connected with a two-run shot over the Green Monster in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and give the Red Sox a 4-2 victory over the rival Yankees. 

Here's the video Ortiz and former Red Sox teammate Kevin Millar, now with the MLB Network, made for Maverick before the game.

And here's Maverick's response, via Millar:

 

Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

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Quotes, notes, and stars: "No sign" of Ortiz slowing down

Quotes, notes, and stars from the Red Sox' 4-2 win over the Yankees.

QUOTES:

* "He gathered himself and got a little rhythm as the night went along.'' - John Farrell on Henry Owens.

* "That's a rarity for Betances to leave his breaking ball up like he did. Once David saw it up, he attacked.'' - Farrell on David Ortiz's game-winning homer.

* "There's no sign of him slowing down. Tonight is a prime example of it. Key moment, big hit when we need it. There's a long resume there and it's continuing to build.'' - Farrell on Ortiz's ability to deliver in the clutch.

* "There were some mechanical adjustments that I made. I came out a little erratic, trying to do too much, maybe focusing too much. But as game went on, I kind of got into a rhythm.'' - Owens on his start.

* "I saw him throw a lot of breaking pitches to Mookie. The one they hit stayed up a little longer than usual. He's the kind of pitcher that, if you go up there looking for everything he's got, you're done.'' - Ortiz on his game-winning homer off Dellin Betances.

NOTES:

* Over his career, David Ortiz has hit 29 go-ahead homers from the eighth inning on.

* Ortiz has eight homers in his last 24 games against the Yankees.

* The win was the first this season for the Red Sox in a game in which they were tied or trailing after seven innings.

* The Red Sox have won five of their last six and seven of their last 10.

* The Yankees have been limited to three runs or fewer in their last six games.

* In 21 games, the Yankees have faced 10 lefty starters; in 22 games, the Red Sox have faced two.

* Masahiro Tanaka has issued just one walk in his last three starts.

STARS:

1) David Ortiz

With one swing of the bat, Ortiz untied a 2-2 game in the bottom of the eighth with a game-winning two-run homer.

2) Jackie Bradley Jr.

Bradley's penchant for delivering a big hit continued as he rapped a two-run double to left in the seventh to erase a 2-0 Yankee lead.

3) Masahiro Tanaka

He shut the Red Sox for six innings before allowing three hits and two runs in the seventh.