Ortiz says Sox need to power up

He seems to think pleas went unheeded last year

David Ortiz is among the players the Red Sox want to report in better shape next spring. David Ortiz is among the players the Red Sox want to report in better shape next spring. (Aram Boghosian/For The Globe)
By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / November 20, 2009

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David Ortiz suggested around this time last year that the Red Sox needed more power in their lineup. As he recalled, the advice was not treated with sufficient respect.

“Everybody was looking at me like I was a clown,’’ Ortiz said yesterday at Fenway Park, dropping an expletive to make his point. “I said we needed another 30-home run hitter. Everybody was talking trash. There you go. Now what?’’

Now the Red Sox are looking to make adjustments to a team that won 95 games but finished eight games behind the Yankees in the American League East. Jason Bay, who led the team with 36 homers and 119 RBIs, entered free agency today. In Ortiz’s mind, the Red Sox need to retain Bay and add another hitter of substance.

“You want to compete with those guys across the street? You better bring it. Period,’’ Ortiz said, referencing the Yankees. “We always need help. We need guys capable to produce. Not only us, everybody. That’s what everybody chases in the offseason, guys that can come in and provide power, RBIs.

“This is a team that plays in the [American League] East division. Everything is powerful right here. You saw the world champions in the East. You have Tampa Bay in the East. You have the Blue Jays getting stronger every year in the East. You have Baltimore that you don’t know if they’re going to come and kick your [butt] all year along in the East.

“This division is hard to play. You need to get stronger.’’

Ortiz laughed when told about speculation that the Sox could trade for San Diego slugger Adrian Gonzalez or Seattle ace Felix Hernandez.

“If I can get both of them, I bring them in,’’ he said. “Problem solved.’’

The primary reason for Ortiz meeting with reporters was to promote his charity golf tournament, which starts Dec. 3 in the Dominican Republic.

The four-day event is expected to include a variety of teammates and manager Terry Francona, along with Pedro Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Mariano Rivera, Ryan Howard, and Torii Hunter. Proceeds benefit sick children and their families in New England and the Dominican.

“We do this for medical care reasons,’’ said Ortiz. “It’s always good to be involved in things like this when you can help kids.’’

Ortiz spoke while wearing shorts and a pullover, having just come from a workout. The designated hitter, who turned 34 Wednesday, has been in the Boston area since the end of the season.

He is one of several players told by the team that they must return next season in better condition.

“He’s following through with a really good start to his offseason,’’ general manager Theo Epstein said. “He was working out a couple of days after the season ended. You can see he’s lost some weight and is in really good shape. It’s a good sign.’’

Epstein said a day after the Sox were eliminated from the playoffs that Ortiz needed to be more of “a force’’ next season.

Ortiz had a .612 slugging percentage and averaged nearly 42 home runs from 2003-07. He has slugged .482 in the two seasons since and hit 51 home runs. Ortiz was tied to the use of performance-enhancing drugs in July. After first acknowledging that he tested positive, Ortiz denied knowing what he had taken.

“I’ve always been a force here,’’ he said. “The ball club counts on me. I know that for a fact. I’m going to prepare myself and come back and try and do it again.’’

Once he is done swinging a golf club with his famous friends, Ortiz will start swinging a bat; that process didn’t start until January last season as he recovered from a hand injury.

“I’m going to go back to my normal routine,’’ he said.

The other factor is that Ortiz is entering the final season of a four-year, $52 million contract. The team holds a $12.5 million option for 2011.

“I always look at my last year like my first one. What I’m doing right now, I do every year,’’ he said. “I don’t want you guys to think that I’m doing what I’m doing right now because it’s the last year of my contract and I have to put it together. I do this every year.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at

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