BOSTON -- The ever-loquacious David Ortiz identified himself Sunday afternoon as “David Ichiro Ortiz.” He talked about being a singles hitter. He talked about not quite being 100 percent physically. He talked about his cuss word heard ‘round the world. He said it all sincerely.
Just as Saturday, he might as well have said it all in a Boston accent.
Of all the moments in a week filled with indelible images, Ortiz somehow found his way into the middle of it all, ending an eight-month hiatus from donning a Boston uniform and dispelling any doubt that either he or his city are going anywhere with the flap of his lips on Saturday. Ortiz’s sentiment, spit into a microphone with the gusto of a rapper engaged in a battle of rhymes, evaded the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission. In fact, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski on Saturday sent out a tongue-in-cheek tweet: "David Ortiz spoke from the heart at today's Red Sox game. I stand with Big Papi and the people of Boston - Julius"
But more than that, Ortiz has let his bat do some yakking. After going 2-for-4 in his 2013 debut, the designated hitter followed with a 3-for-4 showing in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. He drove in runs during both games, including the go-ahead run on Saturday.
What’s more, Ortiz also legged out his first extra-base hit of the season on Sunday, shooting one down the line and into the right-field corner. By the time Jeff Francoeur fished it out by Pesky’s Pole, Ortiz went sliding into second. His foot speed around the basepaths -- well, you know how that is. He ran exactly how you’d expect a 37-year-old slugger with two bum Achilles to run.
His following act was advancing to third on a Mike Napoli fly out to right. Ortiz hit the bag standing -- and to a near standing O.
“I don’t feel the way I’d like to feel,” Ortiz said after Sunday afternoon’s 4-2 loss to the Royals. “I’m just getting to the point where you have to mentally just deal with the issues I had last year and just get to the point where I’m 100 percent.”
Despite the self-appointed moniker, Ortiz isn’t about to assume the identity of a table setter. But he cautioned that he's still a work in progress. Ortiz, who immediately was slotted back into the clean-up role, did not start Game 2 of the doubleheader. He was available to pinch hit in the nightcap but did not come off the bench.
“I’m not trying to do too much,” Ortiz said. “I wasn’t facing pitching for eight months and I’m not going to lie to you, I don’t feel comfortable.”
At several times during the exchange with reporters, Ortiz repeated, “I’m not quite there yet.”
But for whatever Ortiz may or may not be at this juncture, it is welcomed.
He spoke about the reaction he’s received following yesterday’s pointed profanity.
“A lot of positive comments,” he added.
Ortiz was not defensive about what he said; he remained assertive.
“What we went through this week, that’s what I was feeling.”
Elsewhere in Boston on Sunday, officials announced plans to reopen portions of Boylston Street, which have been closed for nearly a week as an active crime scene. Before Sunday’s first game, a bomb-sniffing K9 unit did a sweep of the Red Sox clubhouse.
Like Ortiz, we’re not quite there yet. But at least we’re back.