- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- In an odd and unusual tirade, Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz told reporters Thursday that there's too much media-driven drama surrounding the club, and people should leave the players alone and let them concentrate on playing baseball.
"It's starting to become the s--- hole that it used to be," Ortiz said. "Look around, bro. Playing here used to be so much fun, and now every day it's something new not even related to baseball. People need to leave us alone and let us play ball, man, and let us do what we know how to do."
In his blog on Monday, ESPN baseball insider Buster Olney wrote that an "unhappiness that exists among the Boston players and staff is multi-layered and deep." Red Sox players have denied the report's characterization of the clubhouse.
The source of Ortiz's frustration stems from all the "media drama" surrounding this team, and he admitted that he's not having fun.
"Not really," he said. "Too much (s---). Too much (s---). This ain't all about me. I'm not just the only player here. We have 25 guys who care just as much as I care about playing ball here and providing winning ballgames, and it seems like there's something new every day about players. People need to leave us alone and let us play ball."
From a personal standpoint, Ortiz is in the midst of a spectacular season.
Entering Thursday night he had hit home runs in three straight games, which is his longest streak of consecutive games with a homer since Sept. 23-25, 2009. Over the last 10 games he's hitting .394 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
Overall he's hitting .313 with 18 homers and 49 RBIs this season.
The team, however, remains near the bottom of the AL East, ahead of only Toronto by a half-game entering Thursday night. The notion that this club is not unified and that there's tension in the clubhouse bothers Ortiz because, as he and the rest of the players say, it simply is not true.
"The only thing we can do is play ball," Ortiz said. "You (media) control what goes in the newspapers and everything else."
Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine believes Ortiz made those comments to act as a distraction for his teammates.
"I think David is trying to speak for more than just himself," Valentine said. "Maybe it's a distraction for the rest of them and put it on his shoulders again, like we have most of the season."
Not that Valentine disagrees with Ortiz's philosophy of leaving the players alone and letting them concentrate on playing.
"It's tough and obviously that's what we would love to have, but it is what it is," Valentine said. "David's handled it as well as anyone I've ever seen, and you might have caught him on a bad day today.
"It's easy to get distracted, and that's part of the game and part of the challenge. To be successful in a great baseball community like this, you have to overcome the opposition and overcome the distractions. It's part of the challenge."
It was also unusual to see Red Sox team president Larry Lucchino walk onto the field during batting practice and make his way over to Ortiz, who gave him a fist pump before jumping into the cage to hit. That was the extent of their meeting.
Ortiz has been vocal in the past -- especially last winter -- of his desire to remain in Boston for the rest of his career and to get a long-term contract. Instead, the Red Sox and Ortiz settled on a one-year deal worth $14.575 million.
When asked about his contract status on Thursday, Ortiz said he was only focused on playing baseball and his future is in the hands of ownership.
"This is my last year trying to prove people wrong," Ortiz said. "I'm just tired of dealing with drama here. This is baseball, man. It seems like everything that goes around here affects the whole (Red Sox) Nation. This is baseball, and you're supposed to have fun. We're performing out there at the highest level, and every day it's something new, more (s---)."
When asked if he wants to be back next season, Ortiz winked and said: "I don't know. I'll think about it."
Ortiz won the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award last season for his community service and made a comment that the award meant as much to him than the two World Series titles he's won in Boston.
He's having another great season on the field in 2012, and despite his comments on Thursday, he said he only wants to win another championship in Boston.
"That's me. I've been here for 10 years and doing my thing," Ortiz said. "I'm working hard and trying to win another championship. This is a great place to win and let's keep it that way."