Slugger homers; deficit balloons to five games
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has hit 30 career homers at Camden Yards, including one each in the first two games of this week’s pivotal four-game series against the Orioles in Baltimore. Over his 20-year career, he’s hit more homers in only two opposing ballparks.
Ortiz has already left a lasting mark in his final regular-season series at Camden Yards with the American League East and other playoff implications on the line. He hit a game-changing three-run homer in the Orioles’ 5-2 loss Tuesday night after planting a two-run homer onto the right-field flag court Monday night as part of another Red Sox win.
But the lasting memory of Ortiz at Camden Yards is a moment that’s likely been replayed more than any of his home runs there.
In 2013, an enraged Ortiz destroyed a phone in the visiting dugout with three swings of his bat after a strikeout.
The running joke inside the Orioles clubhouse is that the team should present Ortiz with a bronzed bullpen phone as his retirement farewell tour hits Baltimore this week. When Ortiz was presented with that thought during a scrum with reporters in the same visiting dugout before Tuesday’s game, the slugger let out a belly laugh.
“Like I always say, I don’t expect anything from nobody,” Ortiz said. “But I’m just happy for people taking their time to honor me, and it’s something that is really special to me.”
As Ortiz plays in his final season, teams have presented him with farewell gifts along the way, from the Canada Goose parkas he received in Toronto to the custommade cowboy boots he was given in Texas. He received a cable car bell in San Francisco and a surfboard in San Diego.
Many teams have also given Ortiz a donation to his David Ortiz Children’s Fund, which offers pediatric medical services to inneed children in New England and the Dominican Republic.
The Orioles, however, have not yet announced any on-field ceremony to honor Ortiz this week. Barring a potential return in the postseason, his last game at Camden Yards is Thursday night.
The Orioles — whonowtrail the division-leading Red Sox by five games with 11 remaining — have honored other players in the past. Theypresented NewYorkYankees shortstop Derek Jeter with a number of gifts in his final series at Camden Yards two years ago. The Yankees captain received an official U.S. Navy captain’s hat, an oversized crab mallet, a bushel of crabs and a locally baked cake in the shape of his No. 2.
When all-time saves leader Mariano Rivera of the Yankees made his final trip to Oriole Park in 2013, the Orioles presented him with a bronzed broken bat and ball — a reference to how many bats he broke over his career throwing his trademark cutter — given to him by Orioles manager Buck Showalter during a pregame ceremony.
That the team has not made public any intention of honoring Ortiz is a departure from what it did with those Yankees legends. Ortiz announced his retirement in November, so teams have had plenty of time to plan.
If they decide to let the series pass without recognizing the Red Sox slugger, the Orioles will be just the second team to not recognize Ortiz with a pregame ceremony. The Braves are the only team thus far that hasn’t honored Ortiz, according to The Boston Globe, and while the Tampa Bay Rays had no ceremony planned, players plan to honor him when he makes his final trip to Tropicana Field this weekend. The Red Sox play their final road series at Yankee Stadium next week.
Ortiz has long been revered in Boston and among Red Sox fans. Even on the road — including places such as Camden Yards — the cheers of Red Sox fans for Ortiz match the boos.
Ortiz is still a polarizing figure, especially when considering his place among the game’s greats. He’s been a central figure of three World Series championship teams (2004, 2007 and 2013) and his 539 career homers rank 17th all-time — he just passed Mickey Mantle last week.
Ortiz is having one of the best seasons for any 40-year-old — or any retiring player — with 36 homers and 121 RBIs after his homer Tuesday. But he’s spent most of his career as a purely offensive player as a designated hitter, and some have questioned his accomplishments because of confidential failed performanceenhancing-drug test 13 years ago that became public, though he’s never failed a test otherwise.
Ortiz has long been a thorn to the Orioles, even as he ends his career. He has 54 homers against them. He said Tuesday that he considers several Orioles players friends, including center fielder Adam Jones.
“I saw those kids coming up,” Ortiz said. “I remember Adam Jones when he first came up with Seattle. He was an infielder. He transferred to the outfield and became a Gold Glove [player]. He’s truly athletic and a really good friend of mine.”