The fire that burns inside David Ortiz: 'I'm hungrier than ever right now'

Mike Petraglia
February 19, 2014 - 10:21 am

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- There's a fire that burns deep inside David Ortiz. And on Wednesday, after talking about his desire for another year tacked onto his current contract, Ortiz went deep on what motivates him to prove to people that - at 38 - he can still slug and produce like a player in his 20s. "The way everything went down last year, last year was a tough year for me, and I survived through it," Ortiz said of his season that ended with the 2013 World Series MVP trophy. "Now I feel great. Now I feel way better than last year. If I got through it last year I think there's plenty of me going on still. "I have played under one-year deals. I have come in and got my things done. It's not new to me. But it is what it is." What it is right now is the final year of a two-year, $30 million contract, expiring at the end of 2014. What was particularly interesting was Ortiz's admission that he feels that he has earned his place in the pantheon of the greatest players ever to wear the Red Sox uniform. It's part of the reason his critics, while they are certainly in the minority, still bother him. "As long as I have been in this organization, I don't think I have disrespected [anyone]," he said. "I think I have been honest. I think I have been legit and I've been one of the greatest to wear this uniform, too. Some people forget about that but sometimes you've got to let them know. I think it's very disrespectful for someone out there to be saying that I'm greedy, that all I want to talk about is contract. When am I going to talk about contract? When I retire? It's now that I'm playing, still playing. Nobody gets a contract after you retire. Who does? A lot of them go out there on the radio talk, those radio shows or whatever, they always like to come out with their chest wide open and talk trash and before you do that, you need to know who you're going to talk about." Why is that? "Haters man, haters, haters. People hate. That's the world we're living in today. People hate people [and] are not comfortable with you doing well, and that's it. That's the way I see it. I do not disrespect anyone as long as I've been here, that I can remember. I just go about my business, do what I've got to do, win championships. That's what every single person that is a fan, or any organization, wants from a player. That's what I do. "That part of it motivates me to come in and kick ass, to be honest with you. I'm super-excited. I can't wait for the season to start, can't wait, can't wait. I'm anxious. I'm hungrier than ever right now. To me, what we did last year don't matter. I want to get another one now again, prove people wrong like I have my career and then at the end of the season I just laugh at my house because I don't talk to no one. I just sit at my house and laugh about it. That's all you can do, right? Being slapped in the face." So, Ortiz admits he's constantly playing with a chip on his shoulder. "I always do," Ortiz said. "I always do. I always do. You [media] all know that. I always do." With greats like Mariano Rivers (2013) and Derek Jeter (this season) retiring, how much longer will the 38-year-old Ortiz play? "They have a wonderful career. I don't have their age yet but I'll start viewing things different once I get there. I've got a couple of years in between before I get there." "I get asked that question asked all the time and I had a question for everyone... how am I doing so bad that people want me to retire? Can anyone give me an answer to that?," he asked. There is the possibility, though not likely, that Ortiz doesn't end his career with the Red Sox. "It can happen, man. It can happen. Hopefully not," he said. "It can happen. Hopefully, that's not the case. I like it here. I love the fans here. I love what I do here. My job is to not only hit a baseball. I do a lot of things I'm comfortable with and a lot of people care about. I think I'm doing OK since I've been here."