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

Ortiz: Red Sox need to re-embrace the '04 approach
September 27, 2012, 1:29 pm
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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.''