Slug­ger homers; deficit bal­loons to five games

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

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.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.