Thursday, June 9, 2011
HRs, not the flips, keep coming for Papi
By Gordon Edes
David Ortiz has homered in each of the team's last three games against the Yankees, all in Yankee Stadium.
NEW YORK -- Maybe Red Sox DH David Ortiz had grown tired of looking at the newspaper sitting on a table in the visitors' clubhouse, the tabloid with the headline, "Papi Crock" splashed across its back page.
Or perhaps he thought he had delivered his message already, when he crushed a first-inning home run Wednesday night off Yankees starter A.J. Burnett, then set his bat down on the ground as gently as he would a toddler. None of the flamboyance of the night before, when he'd flung his bat in exultation like a flaming torch.
In either case, Ortiz was in no mood Wednesday night to revisit the flap stirred the previous night by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who had said he "didn't care for" the way Ortiz had unsheathed his maple weapon after taking Yankees rookie Hector Noesi deep.
"I've got almost 370 bombs," an irked Ortiz told reporters after the game. "I don't want to make a big deal because I flipped the bat after one of them."
Then, he added: ""I'm done with this [expletive]."
Ortiz has hit 364 home runs in his career. Thirty-four have come against the Yankees, a total against one opponent exceeded only by the 39 he has hit against Toronto. And that doesn't count the five home runs he has hit against the Yankees in the postseason, including one of the most dramatic in club history, the 12th-inning walkoff home run in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS.
Ortiz has homered in each of the team's last three games against the Yankees, all in Yankee Stadium. The last Sox player to hit home runs in three straight games in the Bronx was Mo Vaughn, back in 1994, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The last Sox player to hit home runs in three straight games against the Yanks, home or away, was Manny Ramirez in 2006.
In the aftermath of Girardi's comments Tuesday night, there was speculation that Ortiz's action might invite retaliation, a rather laughable notion 1) given how Ortiz is among the most beloved players in baseball, a must-see personage for opponents whenever they visit, and 2) in 160 previous regular-season games against the Yankees, Ortiz has not once been hit by a pitch.
Since 1990, 312 players have been hit by more pitches than Ortiz, including Yankees Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, who have been hit 155 and 154 times, respectively. Jeter has been hit 22 times just by Red Sox pitchers, Rodriguez 18 times by the Sox.
Red Sox third baseman Kevin Youkilis has been hit 75 times, and he has played in only a little more than half of the games (884) Ortiz has played in (1,655).
Ortiz certainly wasn't expecting any potential retaliation Wednesday. "Why?'' he asked reporters.
On Tuesday night, he had been amused more than upset when asked about it.
"I mean, it’s not my first time, it’s not going to be my last time,’’ Ortiz said of the way he airmailed his bat. “Big deal. I enjoy the game. I’m a home run hitter. It’s not like I do it all the time. It’s part of the excitement, you know what I mean? What can I tell you?’’
For his part, Girardi also downplayed his comment, suggesting before Wednesday's game that the media had given it a Full Monty treatment he hadn't intended. Nor did he think Jon Lester hitting two Yankee batters Tuesday night -- Mark Teixeira and Russell Martin -- was an invitation for the Yankees to engage in any retaliatory target practice.
"I didn’t hear our guys talk about it at all,'' Girardi said. "It seems like it’s been talked about more in the media than our guys. I didn’t hear anything about our guys being upset.”
Red Sox manager Terry Francona thought it all much ado about nothing. Asked if he'd ever been rankled by the actions of an opposing hitter the way Girardi had been rankled by Ortiz, Francona said: "What's rankled? My pants are rankled.
"I don't think I get too upset with stuff. I personally choose to hope we win a game and expend my energy doing that. Dave's a big boy, he can handle himself. I actually didn't even notice.
"David's hit a lot of home runs. I'm not sure what the difference is, whether he flips the bat or look into the dugout or wave at somebody. A lot of guys do stuff. Whatever.''
Then, to a question of whether he'd ever admonished one of his own hitters to cool it, Francona told a story about (surprise) Manny Ramirez.
"When we were losing, Manny hit a home run in Cleveland once -- was it in Cleveland? -- and I thought I was wrong, I thought we were winning,'' Francona said. "He watched it, he was so excited, and I'm thinking, 'Damn, we're losing.'''