Ortiz blames sore side, not column, for slump

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A sore oblique muscle, not an inflammatory newspaper column, sent David Ortiz into a slump last week, the Red Sox designated hitter told ESPN Deportes columnist Enrique Rojas on Tuesday afternoon.

"I've been dealing with a sore left side," Ortiz said. "For that reason I was pulling the ball rather than hitting it the opposite way.

"I was hurt in one of the first games when we returned home due to the cold, but I'm feeling better and soon will start hitting again," he said.

Ortiz, who had just one hit in his last 20 at-bats entering play Tuesday, pulled a high inside fastball from Tampa Bay left-hander Matt Moore into the right-field seats for a three-run home run in the first inning. ESPN Stats & Information measured the drive at 402 feet.

Ortiz had expressed displeasure with a column by the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy in which the columnist told Ortiz he was suspected of using steroids, but when Rojas asked if the column had affected his performance, he said: “Not really, not really."