Ortiz shoulders leadership role

Ortiz shoulders leadership role
February 26, 2012, 12:24 am
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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Every year for the last 10 years, Red Sox ownership has been addressing the organization on the first day of spring training full-squad workouts.

Saturday, for the first time, a player joined them in addressing the team.

Veteran DH David Ortiz, unannounced, added some remarks at the end of the meeting. He praised the Red Sox ownership group and encouraged his teammates to show pride in wearing the Sox uniform.

"The reason why I stepped and said something,'' said Ortiz afterward, "was for the new players to get the right idea about what we're trying to do this year.''

In the aftermath of Tim Wakefield's retirement and the absence of Jason Varitek, Ortiz is now the longes-tenured Red Sox player in the clubhouse. That, he admitted, played a part in his decision to speak out.

"I'm one of the older guys here,'' said Ortiz. "We have these meetings and we never step up and say things. We do nothing but listen. But today, I think it was a good time for us as players to make sure that our owner doesn't feel guilty about the job that they do.

"I think they did a hell of a job last year, putting a good team together. After that, it's not on them; it's on us. Everybody wants to call out Mr. Henry or Larry Lucchino or Tom Werner and at the end of the day, there's nothing else that they can do but do what they did last year -- pick up good players and bring them to the organization. After that, it's on us.

Ortiz told teammates that "wearing 'Red Sox' on your shirt and the jersey, you've got to be proud of that. You've got to be absolutely proud of it because of the history of the organization. Hopefully, everyone takes that personally and (will) be responsible.

"We're employees here. We have rules to follow and we have a boss and we have to do what he wants us to do.''

According to several people in the room, Ortiz's remarks were greeted with a loud ovation.

Now, he hopes the message takes.

"I don't want people to get the wrong idea here,'' said Ortiz. "We have a lot of guys trying to win games. We have a lot of guys busting their asses just to do the right thing. The situation that we faced, it ended up not being what people expected it to be. But we have tons of guys here who care and they want to make things happen so this organization can come out on top.''