David Ortiz

David Ortiz: 'I'm not worried about fastballs'

Rob Bradford
June 15, 2015 - 5:15 am

Sitting in the clubhouse prior to the Red Sox' series finale against the Blue Jays, David Ortiz offered a pointed rebuttal to those suggesting he could no longer handle big league fastballs. "What do I think about people who talk about guys who can hit a fastball and guys that can? I think people need to shut the [expletive] up. You know why? Because hitting a fastball is not a problem," he said. "It'€™s when you get it and where you get it." A few hours later, he got one on the seventh pitch of his fifth-inning at-bat against Marco Estrada, and the result backed up Ortiz' proclamation. The designated hitter deposited the heater over the right field fence. While Ortiz wasn't available to elaborate after hitting his ninth homer of the season, the DH made his thoughts on the fastball issue clear to WEEI.com earlier in the day. "It'€™s always something," he said. "When I struggle there'€™s always something to say. They said six years ago that I had no bat speed, that I was old. I'€™ve hit 200 homers since. So whatever they say now, [expletive] it. I'€™m just not going to pay attention to what they say. They always have something to say. If I do well, they'€™re going to say [expletive]. I'€™m just not going to pay attention to it. "What happens if I start hitting 97 [mph] again? What are they going to say? '€˜We were wrong,'€™ or this and that? The best thing you can do is go out, have fun and try to perform at the highest level. That'€™s all you can do. "I'€™m not worried about fastballs. That'€™s not a thing I'€™m worried about." The conversation regarding Ortiz and fastballs was recently amped up by the approach by Orioles and Blue Jays pitchers, who appeared to err on the side of throwing the DH heaters. And when they didn't -- such as the case when Baltimore reliever Chaz Roe's curveball resulted in a homer, or Drew Hutchinson's slider was hit to the left field wall -- the Sox hitter made them pay. Ortiz has been one of the few bright spots during the Red Sox' current six-game losing streak, hitting .333 (6-for-18) with four walks, a 1.288 OPS and three home runs. But with Ortiz currently hitting .209 against four-seam fastballs (according to BrooksBaseball.net), the scouting report has seemingly been crafted. According to those in the Blue Jays clubhouse, it was one of the reasons Toronto manager John Gibbons left in righty Liam Hendricks to face Ortiz with the bases loaded Saturday instead of going to lefties Phil Coke or Aaron Loup. One big difference in pitchers' recent approach is how left-handers are going to their fastballs more against Ortiz, using the heater 43 percent of the time compared to a 32 percent clip last year. For example, Loup finished off the Sox' lefty hitter with 96 mph pitch at the top of strike zone. It's a dynamic Ortiz knows will continue to evolve, but it's also something the DH feels he will be able to handle. "What am I going to do? They say I can'€™t hit fastballs anymore so I'€™m going to be afraid when somebody throws me a fastball," he said. "That'€™s not going to resolve any problem. That'€™s not the case. Pitchers, when I face them, they find a way to make good pitches. When they make mistakes they know what'€™s going to happen, but it'€™s not like they'€™re throwing fastballs right down the middle. No, no, no. Now, when you see me having problem turning on 95 [inside] then we'€™ve got problems. "Just tell them to come and tell me they'€™re going to throw me a fastball and I guarantee I will hit it. When a guy goes 70 [mph] and then goes 97 [mph], that can be a problem to catch up on that 97 [mph]. But it'€™s easy to talk about it."