Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz paid a visit with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning at spring training in Fort Myers, Fla.
Ortiz last week got upset after hearing a reporter suggest that Ortiz, at age 36, could see a dropoff similar to the one Red Sox legend Jim Rice had at the same age in 1989.
"I don't really care about what anybody says. You can say whatever you want. That won't get in my way," Ortiz said. "I look at myself as a guy that, when I was 15, I didn't really know what I wanted to be. So, nobody can come out right now and tell me who I'm going to be tomorrow or the next day or the next few days. The problem was how people want to put negativity on people's heads. I don't think it's fair. … These people are always talking trash. I've been here 10 years. They always have something to say."
Added Ortiz: "I'm not Jim Rice. I'm David Ortiz. We've got to be different."
Ortiz also talked about the team's reaction to the September collapse that cost the Red Sox a playoff berth last year.
"Right after the season, I'm not going to lie to you, I don't think there was one person in Red Sox Nation that was happy about the way we ended," he said. "Things were going so good, and it was like turning a switch off for us. Me, when I saw the way we were playing in August, at the beginning, and through June and July, I was like, well, there's no question that we're going to the playoffs. Having that drop the way it happens, it just sucks out all your energy and gets yourself thinking. And what people sometimes don't realize is that from a situation like that, you learn a lot of things. You can never take anything for granted in baseball. Because you can go from top to bottom in a heartbeat, and that's what happened to us last year. And I'm 100 percent sure there's a lot of my teammates thinking about the same thing.
"And like I always keep on telling people, I don't blame the situation that happened last year on the last game that we lost. I blame things on what we went through the whole year, those games that we had right there that got away from us, and situations like that. All of that counts toward the end of the season. Hopefully, everybody learns from it and takes advantage of it this year."
As for the alleged locker room misbehavior of last year, Ortiz said: "I think people learn from their mistakes. I'm pretty sure there's going to be better judgment this year about situations. This whole drinking and getting fried chicken thing has been blown up bigger than what it is. That's the way I see it."
Ortiz insisted he has never faced discipline from the team since coming over from the Twins in 2003.
"I'm a grown-ass man," he said. "I've got to make up my own mind. I've been here 10 years. I don't say that it's never going to happen, but there hasn't been the day a GM or owner has pulled me to the side just to correct me on something that I'm doing wrong, or violating the rules here."
Asked about the incident last season when he burst into a Terry Francona pregame press conference to complain about an official scorer's decision the night before that cost him an RBI, he said: "You guys blow that up."
Asked if he would do it again, he insisted: "If you try to take an RBI away from me, yes. Oh, yeah. … I wasn't looking forward to sticking my head in the press conference. I walk in, he was in the middle of the press conference. All I told him was, 'I need to talk to you after you're done.' But then you guys find out what it was I was trying to talk to him about and then, boom, blow it [out of proportion]."
Following are more highlights from the interview.
On being a team leader: "I've always been a guy that anybody could come to. I just try not to put pressure on myself, I just try to do the right thing and move on."
On the team's decision to ban alcohol in the clubhouse: "I've got no issues with that."
On his offseason contract negotiations that led to a one-year deal: "I was looking for something else. It didn't work out. I'm happy with what I got. We got into an agreement before we walked into that [arbitration] room. And I think it was very respectful from them, just come down and be like, 'Here's what we've got,' or whatever. And I just agreed to it. Like I told them, let's move on and try to win this year."
On predictions that the Red Sox will finish third: "Right now, I don't have a problem. In September, I would have a problem. I like it when people look at us like underdogs. I like it. It's less pressure."
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