Ortiz now the last link left
Just one remains from title teams
David Ortiz has witnessed many stirring send-offs for past Red Sox teammates. He nervously delivered a speech on behalf of his teammates during Tim Wakefield’s ceremony. On Sunday, he agreed to take a day off so that Kevin Youkilis could enjoy one last hurrah before being traded to the White Sox.
“Everybody got a little emotional,’’ Ortiz said. “You know, he’s a friend of mine and we got a little emotional.’’
Youkilis’s departure left Ortiz as the only player on the roster who was on both World Series squads in 2004 and 2007. “I guess I’m the last dinosaur,’’ Ortiz said before Monday night’s 9-6 loss to the Blue Jays.
The trade of Youkilis was a sobering dose of hardball reality for Ortiz, who avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year $14.75 million contract in February.
“Since baseball started, people get traded, people get released, people spend some time in an organization and finish their careers somewhere else,’’ said Ortiz, a free agent pickup in 2003. “Then there are some people who stay with the same organization their whole career. In this game a lot of things can happen.
“I thought it was the end of the world when I got out of Minnesota, because that’s all I knew. So I came here and this is where I feel like it’s really my house because I never really felt comfortable in Minnesota.
“So I get here and my career took a 180-degree turn.’’
Seeing the fans give Youkilis a curtain call after he was pulled in the seventh inning Sunday made Ortiz wonder if it would be the same for him if were to part ways with the Sox.
“What I’ve seen from the fans here always made me believe that we’ve got the best fans,’’ he said. “They recognize their players. What I’ve seen through the years, what they do for guys who come here and do what they’re supposed to do, it’s amazing.
“That’s why, man, every time I take that field, I try to do something to make something happen. It’s because of the fans. It’s a place that I love playing here, because it’s all about the game, you know?’’
Last Thursday, Ortiz went on a expletive-laced rant in the Sox clubhouse, venting his frustration about the media. It left some fans with the impression he was no longer happy in Boston when, in fact, he said nothing could be further from the truth.
“To be quite honest with you, I’d like to keep my mind focused on baseball,’’ he said. “That’s about it. I’ve got no problem with the media, I’ve got no problem talking to the media.
“But we have a personal life before baseball and after baseball. People believe that we don’t have problems and that when we get here, we’re just about baseball and that’s it. No, we’ve got our own problems, just like you guys have, and on top of that, we’ve got to come in here and do our job.
“I get myself ready to play year-round. You know why? It’s because of the fans we have here. I’m a guy who’s totally dedicated to the fans. I’ve learned so much from the fans here and I’ve appreciated their support through the tough times.
“Trust me, I always want to give my best for the fans here, because they deserve that. I don’t want to have no confrontations with anybody or saying negative stuff about [the media]. But the competition is hard enough for us to be dealing with some of this stuff - and dealing with our personal life. Sometimes it’s way too much.’’
After joining his new teammates in Minnesota, Youkilis met with the media and expressed gratitude for the heartfelt manner in which Red Sox fans bid him adieu.
“It definitely was not an easy time for me,’’ Youkilis told the Chicago Tribune. “It was tough for my family, to try to figure out where we’re going. But it’s a great thing to be in a great city in Chicago. I’m very fortunate to play for two baseball teams that have such storied franchises.’’
Youkilis said the trade rejuvenated him, making him want to prove he was still capable of playing at an All-Star level.
“There’s a lot of talk saying, ‘You can’t play baseball anymore.’ I think I can. I think I can play at a high level,’’ he said. “[But] talk is one thing. I have to go out and prove it with my actions.’’
Asked about his relationship with Bobby Valentine, which was strained from the start of the season when the Sox manager called into question the player’s commitment, Youkilis replied, “We’re past that. I’m here and that’s that. We’re just leaving it behind.’’
Youkilis went 1 for 4 as the Twins beat the White Sox, 4-1.
Brent Lillibridge, the utilityman acquired in the Youkilis deal, was added to the 25-man roster. He arrived at Fenway Park around 1:30 p.m. and was greeted by Scott Podsednik, a former White Sox teammate.
“You have to turn the page pretty quick in this game and I’m pretty excited to be part of this team and this storied franchise,’’ said Lillibridge, whose father grew up in Rhode Island as a Red Sox fan.
Lillibridge hit .200 (5 for 25) in his last 19 games with the White Sox, making only five starts. He was primarily a part-time player in Chicago and played every position except catcher. He made two straight highlight-reel catches in right field to preserve a win at Yankee Stadium last year.
“It was a lot of fun at the time against New York, but I’ve got to make plays and I’ve got to make catches now that I’m here with the Red Sox,’’ he said.
Lillibridge entered in the ninth inning as a defensive replacement in right field.
Clay Buchholz, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Sunday with a stomach illness, had yet to be released from the hospital Monday afternoon after staying overnight. “He was hoping to get out,’’ Valentine said. “I was just in the training room and it was decided to keep him a little longer, not because anything got worse, just because they want to make sure that everything is as stable as possible before he’s out.’’ Valentine said it had not been determined what caused Buchholz’s internal bleeding. “I mean, I’m concerned, but it’s a personal matter with Clay,’’ he said. “I’ll bet you he feels OK. He sounded it last night.’’ . . . Josh Beckett, who is eligible to come off the 15-day DL Thursday (right shoulder inflammation), threw a bullpen session. “He said his shoulder felt great,’’ Valentine said. Asked when Beckett, who will join the team on its trip to Seattle, might pitch next, Valentine said, “Because we have him on this disabled list, we’re not going to let the calendar dictate. We’re going to make sure he’s really feeling good. So we’ll wait until we make that determination. We’ll wait to see how he feels [Tuesday].’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.