FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz hopes to get a one-year contract extension “pretty soon” and Boston Red Sox owner John Henry would like to fulfill his designated hitter’s desire to retire as a member of the team.
Whether a new deal will be completed during spring training remains uncertain.
“I think it’s going to be OK,” Ortiz said Wednesday. “Conversations are good. My bosses are more than happy to talk about what we’re talking about. They’re trying to get this out of the way so it doesn’t begin to be a distraction.
“The contract situation thing is going to be taken care of at some point. When, I don’t really know. Hopefully, pretty soon.”
About 90 minutes later, Henry was more restrained when asked if he expects a speedy resolution.
“I don’t know that it will get done, but I think it’s good to have the conversation at the beginning of spring training,” he said. “The sooner it’s resolved, in one way or another, the better it is for everyone.”
Henry said he and other Red Sox owners would be in town by Thursday. Fernando Cuza, Ortiz’s agent, has been in Fort Myers this week.
Ortiz, 38, is in the final year of a $26 million, two-year contract as he enters his 12th season with the Red Sox.
He began last spring training with a heel injury that hobbled him early in the season. But he finished with a .309 batting average, 30 homers and 103 RBI. In the six-game World Series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, he batted .688 and was the MVP.
“He’s meant so much to this franchise, to New England, for so long,” Henry said. “He has helped carry us to three world championships, so I know where he’s coming from. He wants to finish his career here and we should try to make that happen.”
The Red Sox could be wary of Ortiz having problems with his health or production at his age. But he’s looking forward to another outstanding season.
“Last year was a tough year for me and I survived through it and now I feel great,” he said. “I feel way better than last year.”
In 11 seasons with the Red Sox, Ortiz is batting .292 with 373 homers and 1,191 RBI. That averages out to 34 homers and 108 RBI per season.
“I think I’m one of the greatest ever to wear this uniform,” he said. “I don’t like to talk about it, like to sound like that, but sometime you got to let â€˜em know. And I think it’s very disrespectful for someone out there to be saying that I’m greedy, that all I want to talk about is contract. When am I going to talk about contract? When I retire?”
He’s more upset with people who criticize him, citing “haters” who “talk trash” on radio — than he is with the Red Sox.
He said he doesn’t bring up his desire for an extension, but responds to questions asked by reporters.
And one of those questions is how long he’ll continue playing.
“I get that question asked all the time,” Ortiz said. “And I have a question for everyone. What am I doing so bad that people want me to retire? Can anybody give me an answer to that?”
Ortiz’s desire for a one-year extension “is certainly something we should listen to and consider,” Henry said.
Can Ortiz imagine playing for another team?
“It can happen,” he said. “Hopefully not.”
After slumping in the AL championship series against the Detroit Tigers, Ortiz went 11 for 16 with two homers and six RBI in the World Series. His .688 batting average and .760 on-base percentage were the second-highest in Series history.
“People sometimes want to make a big deal about a guy like me asking for another year extension when some others are asking for a 10-year extension,” he said. “If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done.”