He ascended the escalator at the Westin Copley Place hotel and was greeted by Red Sox CEO/president Larry Lucchino before Ortiz was introduced to the 700-plus in attendance. The veteran slugger knows he'll be back with the Red Sox for at least one season, but he's been hoping for more than that.
The DH accepted arbitration last month and rejected the team's two-year, $18 million offer. The sides exchanged offer sheets this week and are about $4 million apart, with Ortiz asking for $16.5 million and the Sox offering $12.65 million.
"This is the first time I'm paying attention to it," he said. "It might be a big deal, but it doesn't seem like it to me."
When asked what he thought of his current situation, Ortiz said he knows baseball is big business.
"I guess that's part of the game from the business standpoint," he said. "That's how it goes, right?"
Ortiz is seeking a two-year deal with the Red Sox and has said many times that he would like to end his career in Boston. At this point, he doesn't know if it will include a multiyear deal.
"I don't know," he said. "It doesn't seem like it now."
Ortiz says he's leaving it up to his agent, Fern Cuza, and the Red Sox.
"I'm watching from the outside," he said.
Arbitration hearings occur Feb. 1-20 in St. Petersburg, Fla. Ortiz said he wasn't surprised by the team's recent arbitration offer.
"Nothing (surprises me)," Ortiz said. "It was just like anyone else. I take my time to think about what I want to do and they offered me arbitration and I accepted it."
The Red Sox have not had an arbitration hearing with a player since 2002, but it appears this could be the year under new general manager Ben Cherington.
"We wouldn't rule out a hearing," Cherington said Thursday. "We had more cases this year than we've had in a while. We were able to settle five of those and we have four remaining and we'll continue dialogue to see if there's a settlement with any of those four."
Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.