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Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Ortiz smoking the ball this spring

By Joe McDonald

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz will tell you numbers and statistics mean absolutely nothing during spring training. What is important, he'll say, is getting enough work in and getting comfortable at the plate.

Ortiz has spent what seems like countless hours in the cage, and the results are showing this spring. He went 3-for-3 with an RBI against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday, and he’s now 5-for-8 in Grapefruit League action, including a monster home run against the Twins earlier this week.

Even though the Red Sox say they don’t pay attention to the numbers, the fact that Ortiz went 0-for-15 at the start of camp in 2010, and followed that up with a poor showing in the first month of the season, makes this year's start all the more noticeable.

“He’s certainly short to the ball right now and he’s not trying to muscle up,” said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “He’s keeping everything fair and he’s getting the barrel of the bat to the ball real good right now. He has a nice short swing. He’s barreled up five or six balls the last three games.”

Ortiz also stole a base against the Braves on Wednesday, which was part of the game plan, according to Francona.

“We actually wanted him to run there because J.D. is hitting behind him, and having that hole over there is something J.D. really uses, so we want [opponents] to respect that hole a little bit.

“We would like for [opponents] to hold [Ortiz] on during the season, and that’s why we did it. Again, we want that hole open.”