Saturday, April 19, 2014
These words came from David Ortiz:
“”I’m fine. I’m happy. People like to talk about what could have been, or what you could get if you would have signed (now) … I see things from a different position.
“I was born with nothing. Now that I have some, I’m not going to be picky about it. I just appreciate what I have. Anything you get that is good is a blessing from God.”
That came from a story I wrote back in 2005. It was spring training. The Red Sox were defending World Champions, and the Big Papi legend was in the making.
Those words came in response to a question about possible regrets of signing a “cheap” contract extension during the 2004 season, good for $12.5-million over the next two years. Ortiz said he was fine.
Fast forward to 2014. The Red Sox are coming off another World Series title, and Ortiz was named Series MVP. He is entering the second season of a two-year, $26-million contract. He spoke to WBZ-TV in Boston about wanting a long-term deal:
“Like I always keep on telling people, this is a business. Sometimes you’ve got to do what is best for you and your family. As long as they keep offering me a job and I keep doing what I’m supposed to do and the relationship keeps on building up, I’m going to be here.
“Hopefully I won’t have to go and wear another uniform.
“If I have to, I’ve got no choice. I’m not going to quit. As long as I keep hitting the ball the way I have, I’m going to keep on giving it a try.”
And if Boston does not offer a multi-year contract?
“Time to move on,” Ortiz said in the interview.
So, what can we make of all this?
For now, not much. Ortiz, 38, is under contract for the 2014 season. The Red Sox don’t have to be in a hurry to offer him another contract. Should Ortiz continue to be productive, then Boston will have to decide if a multi-year deal is in order.
If Ortiz’s production drops off, the Red Sox need to determine if age has finally caught up with him. Would they then offer a multi-year deal that will pay Ortiz millions when he’s 40?
Ortiz is a wonderful presence in Boston. But this public angling for a multi-year deal when he is already contract - complete with the threat of having “to go and wear another uniform” - does not come across well.
If the Red Sox decide that Ortiz is in decline and he plays for another team, it will not be so disastrous. Pedro Martinez left after the 2004 title season for a four-year, $51.5-million deal with the Mets. He won a total of 32 games in that other uniform.
Now retired, Martinez is back in a Red Sox uniform, working with Boston’s pitching prospects.
So it is possible Ortiz goes away after 2014. He’ll be back. It is in Boston where the Big Papi legend remains.
One final Red Sox note: former player and TV commentator Jerry Remy announced that he will return for the 2014 season with NESN. Remy had stepped away from the booth last season after his son was arrested for murder.
The incident has taken a toll on Remy, who rightly pointed out that his suffering pales in comparison to the parents of the victim. See the Boston Herald story by John Tomase.
Kevin Thomas covers baseball and basketball for the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram. He wisely moved to Maine in 1994 after working for the St. Petersburg Times. He is married to Nancy and they have nine children.
Follow his thoughts on the Boston Red Sox and Portland Sea Dogs on Clearing the Bases
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