They both labored in the Minnesota Twins minor league system, eventually platooning in the big leagues.

This past weekend, one player was celebrated as one of Boston’s greatest athletes.

The other stood in the third base coach’s box at Hadlock Field, managing the minor league Harrisburg Senators.

David Ortiz, 41, had his number retired at Fenway Park on Friday night. Matt LeCroy, 41, caught highlights of the ceremony after he was done with Harrisburg’s 9-2 loss to the Sea Dogs.

“I saw a little bit of it when I got back to the hotel,” LeCroy said. He delighted in watching his former teammate get recognized.

“Solid guy. Great teammate. Just a good person. Turned out to be a really, really great player. I’m happy for him.”

Both LeCroy and Ortiz served as the Twins designated hitter in 2002, with occasional time at first base. Ortiz, a left-handed hitter, batted .272 with 20 home runs in 125 games; LeCroy, a righty, hit .260 with seven home runs in 63 games.

“He had the talent,” LeCroy said. “You could see it when he played with us. A great hitter. Just didn’t get the opportunity to do it every day. Went to Boston and took advantage of the opportunity. The rest is history.”

When deciding future rosters, the small-market Twins had to hold strictly to its budget. Ortiz was an arbitration-eligible player in 2002 and made $950,000; LeCroy made $200,000.

Ortiz was due to make more in 2003, but the Twins did not tender him a contract. The Red Sox scooped him up for $1.25 million.

“You hate to see a guy like that go,” LeCroy said. “A lot of times in Minnesota, that’s what happened. Guys would make too much money and (the Twins) weren’t willing to pay it.

“Look at the guys who went away, like Torii (Hunter), Johan (Santana), David. It’s just part of it.”

LeCroy said good bye to a teammate and friend. LeCroy was a first-round draft pick out of Clemson in 1997. He soon met Ortiz.

“We became good friends. Our wives became good friends. We watched their daughter during spring training,” he said.

They played together briefly in Triple-A and the majors, especially in 2002. In 2003, it looked like the Twins were choosing LeCroy over Ortiz.

“It wasn’t like they were just giving me the job. Because they didn’t,” LeCroy said.

LeCroy played 107 games in 2003 and hit .287 with 17 home runs. He hit 17 homers again in 2005, then became a free agent and signed with the Nationals. After one season, he returned to the Twins. The following season, he signed with the A’s, but when they offered him a player/coach position in the minors, he opted to play independent ball.

In 2009, the Nationals hired him to manage a Class A team, at the age of 33. He’s been managing since – except for a two-year stint as the Nationals bullpen coach in 2014-15.

The Nationals played at Fenway in 2015.

“We were able to catch up. Same old Ortiz,” LeCroy said. “Just a good dude.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

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Twitter: ClearTheBases