x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Ortiz red hot for Red Sox

Boston hitter comes through a lean patch to confound media criticism, says Sean McAdam.

David Ortiz, of the Boston Red Sox, right, finished May with 10 homers and 27 RBI.
David Ortiz, of the Boston Red Sox, right, finished May with 10 homers and 27 RBI.

By some accounts, David Ortiz was perhaps only a few days away from being given his release from the Boston Red Sox. Ortiz, the team's hulking designated hitter who was essential to their World Series championships in 2004 and 2007, was struggling mightily at the beginning of the season. He had just one home run and four runs batted in during the first month of play, and his batting average hung below .200. He was dropped in the batting order, and regularly held out of the line up, especially against left-handed pitching.

It was speculated that rather than see Ortiz reduced to bit-player status, he could be released to play elsewhere. Then April turned to May and Ortiz re-discovered his power stroke, a more discerning eye, and, it would seem, his mojo. He finished May with 10 homers and 27 RBI. "He's got himself to a point where he really feels good about himself," said Terry Francona, the manager. "You can see it in his body language, his energy, everything. He goes up to the plate and if they make a mistake, he hits it a long way. Sometimes, when they don't make a mistake, he'll shoot it to left or fight off. He's a very dangerous and very productive hitter."

The 10 homers were the most in one month for Ortiz since August 2006. May also marked the first time that Ortiz had hit .350 or better with at least 10 homers and 25 RBI since June 2004. His explosion at the plate helped lead a Red Sox turnaround that saw them go 18-9 since May 5 and inject themselves back into the race in the competitive American League East. Ortiz has relished his return to form and has not been shy in reminding reporters who wrote him off a month ago. Asked on Sunday if this was, in some ways, his most gratifying month with the Red Sox, Ortiz said: "[Expletive] yeah."

"By the way," he added, "this is my eighth year here. You all should know better." Now, much to their displeasure, so do opposing pitchers. sports@thenational.ae