Between Rafael Devers and JD Martinez, David Ortiz seems confident that the Red Sox will be okay without him, though us fans might need a bit more convincing. Say, a home run or two.
Ortiz arrived at Spring Training to the expected fanfare, and wasted no time suiting up to fulfill his duties as team mentor, advisor, and all-around beloved icon. Hopefully, Papi’s presence will inspire and motivate the team, who finished last in the American League in home runs in their first season without the power-hitter last year.
JD Martinez will spend most of his time playing Papi’s old position, DH, though the outfielder has never made more than 10 starts as DH in a single season. He’s not a strong defender, so hopefully, the position change will be a welcome one. The newest Red Sock is eager to learn from his predecessor, saying “the moment you think you know it all, you stop growing and you start dying… I’m hungry for information.” Martinez also admitted that meeting Ortiz made him feel “like a fan… You love this game and you admire and respect talent, guys who have done it. Especially him.”
Ortiz and Martinez also both spoke about their similar origin stories, yet another connection they share. Both were released by their first MLB teams. They were even the same age, 27. Ortiz was released by the Minnesota Twins in 2002, and went on to win three World Series with the Red Sox. Martinez was released by the Astros in 2014, but he had one of the top offensive performances of 2017, batting .303 with 45 home runs and 104 RBIs. Papi says that both he and Martinez went “from underdog to superstar,” but that “you don’t forget where you come from” when that happens; he believes that their first failures are what motivate them the most. Martinez concurred: “We have a similar story… to be here with him, it’s inspiring; it’s motivational.” Ortiz went on to say, “I believe in those types of players. And I know those players come in and don’t take things for granted and give their best.”
Exactly what you’d hope to hear from the man whose opinion carries as much power as his bat swing. If we can’t have David Ortiz back, Martinez is definitely the next best thing. Martinez might be making more per year in his new contract than Ortiz or any DH ever has (don’t even get me started), but Papi’s stamp of approval goes a long way, dare I say, as long as one of his home runs.
*Quotes via Boston Herald