Big Papi brings pop to Red Sox postseason
BOSTON -- David Ortiz said there will be a time to savor all of it.
But not now.
"I just live in the moment," the Red Sox designated hitter said. "When I stop playing I can appreciate my career and start looking at it and say, wow, I had a wonderful career, and appreciate everything that is going by fast right now."
With his start at DH Wednesday in Game 1 of the World Series, Ortiz set a franchise record by appearing in his 15th postseason series with the Red Sox, passing Jason Varitek (14) for the club record.
The 37-year-old has started all 68 postseason games since 2003 and became the ninth player to appear in at least three World Series for the team, the first since three players did it in 1915, '16 and '17.
It is a remarkable run that started innocuously enough during the Winter Meetings in December 2002 when the arbitration-eligible Ortiz was released by the Twins.GM Terry Ryan needed to clear roster space for shortstop Jose Morban, selected from Rangers in the Rule 5 draft.
Now Ortiz is the link between three different Red Sox World Series teams, starting in 2004 when Boston won its first crown in 86 years, and continuing in 2007.
"It never gets old," Ortiz said. "I've been blessed because this is my third one. You always want to be here, you always want to be a part of it. It's an honor for me to be back with the same organization where I've been playing for a long time. Something that doesn't happen to too many of us."
As good as Ortiz has been in the regular season since joining the Red Sox in 2003, he's made his reputation in the postseason. He received a plaque from the club proclaiming him "The Greatest Clutch Hitter in the History of the Boston Red Sox," and that was in 2005.
And even though some of that is overblown -- his postseason slash line with the Red Sox, .272/.393/.532, is similar to his regular season one, .292/ .390/.572 -- his ability to change a series is unquestioned.
Take the ALCS against the Tigers.
Ortiz went 2-for-22 over the six games but very well might have won the series, tying Game 2 with an eighth-inning grand slam that propelled the Red Sox to a victory that allowed them to tie the series at one game apiece.
"You know he's going to have an opportunity to make a huge impact with one swing," Cardinals rookie closer Trevor Rosenthal said. "It's something you try not to focus on and you try to treat him like any other hitter. But in the back of your mind, with those big guys, you know what they're capable of."
Ortiz, who missed much of the second half of 2012 with an Achilles injury, did have one stint on the DL this season with a heel and Achilles issue, but still played 137 games, hitting .309 with a .395 OBP with 30 homers and 103 RBI.
The veteran's image took a hit in 2009 when his name was among those leaked as having failed MLB's survey testing in 2003 (Ortiz disputed he took any banned substances).
It's the one blemish on his career record and considered a blemish only outside of Boston.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said before Game 1 Ortiz is, happily for all involved, the undisputed face of the franchise.
"I think as every new player that has come here, whether it's through the system or from another organization, they all look to him as the guy that's paved the way, that has dealt with the challenges that are present here in Boston, that has also succeeded at the highest level," Farrell said. "And he's so open with his experiences, to maybe help a guy transition into this environment and this market. And he's been great for a lot of years doing that."