Red Sox reliever Adam Ottavino channels Bill Lee
The Red Sox were unsure of what they got in a rare trade with the New York Yankees that brought right-hander Adam Ottavino to The Athens of America. The immediate return was prospect Frank German and an additional $8.25 million to their already narrow luxury tax threshold. The Red Sox also got, depending upon your point of view, a character, colorful player, self-promoter, or an arse. Maybe all?
On-field performance has been more in line with Ottavino’s career statistics. The walks are too many and seem to have a tendency to be with the first batter Ottavino faces. Still, manager Alex Cora has placed Ottavino in high-leverage situations.
Then there is the other Ottavino. His latest adventure in Bizzaro World is following All-World Shohei Ohtani after a game, lacing the two-way star with profanities. Ottavino placed this into the “heat of the moment” and “crime of passion” categories. Despite the usual Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook barrage, Ottavino remained unapologetic. No groveling to the woke crowd.
In an ESPN Podcast, the affable Ottavino waxed less that poetically on none other than Babe Ruth, claiming he would strike out the legendary home run hitter every time. For the baseball historian in him, Ottavino dismissed that bygone era as the game has changed. Like former Red Sox lefty and consummate free spirit Bill Lee, Ottavino has little in the way of filters.
"“Babe Ruth, with that swing, swinging that bat, I got him hitting .140 with eight homers,” said Ottavino."
Ottavino missed the 60s and there is a personal attempt to capture that with a pre-game ritual called earthing. Ottavino’s approach is to channel the sacred past of Fenway Park by traversing the field in his bare feet. I am sure Ottavino has already visited Walden Pond and is well versed in Thoreau. May the power be with him.
"“I feel like it’s a sacred field,” said Ottavino."
Body art is now quite common from Blue Haired senior ladies to bikers and Ottavino is no exception. Ottavino has tats that are job-related. Despite his idiosyncrasies, this pitcher takes his job seriously. Two are pitching-related and can be seen here.
Players give back and Ottavino is no exception. This is a silent performer but a professional who remembers his past. Two notable examples are his fiscal intervention that has saved a Brooklyn baseball league that Ottavino credits with making him what he is as a baseball player. The second is Ottavino and his wife Bette have taken over the Children’s Hospital “Christmas in July” program. They contribute two important factors – time and money.
"“That was how I got introduced to the world, by playing sports and being out there with other kids,” said Ottavino."
Ottavino may reside in a Bizarro World but when you strip down the veneer you have a solid baseball player and an even more solid citizen. With free agency pending for Ottavino, the Red Sox may have to make an offer he can’t refuse.