After having a terrible April in which David Ortiz hit .143 and struck out 21 times in 16 games, Ortiz has turned his season around with a scorching hot May. In 9 games thus far, Ortiz has hit .333 and belted 5 home runs, compared to his 1 long bomb in April. His ability to turn on fastballs is coming back and although he has still already struck out 13 times this month, his slugging percentage is at .818. With Ortiz’s 2 bombs yesterday and his 2 hits in the final game of the Toronto Blue Jays series, I think it is safe to say Big Papi is back.
With Big Papi beginning to hit and becoming feared again in the middle of the Sox lineup, other hitters will get better pitches to hit and the entire offense will benefit. Another great sign for Papi, is that he has driven in 11 runs in 9 May games, while only driving in 4 runs in 16 games in April, which will hopefully help the Sox leave less men on base, because that has been a problem early in the year.
Now that I have declared David Ortiz back after his 2 crushed home runs on Friday against the Detroit Tigers, we can now get off of Papi’s back, right? Not a chance, but it is unbelievably relieving to know that Terry Francona made the right decision to play Papi, even with fans and media crying to bench him or even worse, release Ortiz. I understand baseball is a business, but business or not, David Ortiz is the primary reason the Sox broke their 86-year drought and won 2 championships and deserves the proper respect for his contributions.
Papi’s late game heroics throughout his career earned him the team’s patience. In a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world, Papi gets a pass because of what he did for the Sox the past 7 years. There has been no individual player that was as feared and as clutch as Papi in the past few decades in baseball and maybe even in the history of the game. His ability to perform when the entire weight of generations of Red Sox fans lay on his shoulders was remarkable and something we are likely to never see again.
Welcome back Papi, we missed you. Most of all, we missed your smile and happy demeanor. The weight of the slump and media has been on your shoulders this entire season and that has to wear on you. No one wants you to leave Boston, we want you to finish strong, bring another championship to the city and then retire as a member of the Boston Red Sox with 3 World Series rings. Piece of cake, right?