David Ortiz: 'My mind is pretty much the same. I'm still hungry'

Rob Bradford
March 24, 2014 - 10:04 am

SARASOTA, Fla. -- David Ortiz sat in between Red Sox manager John Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington, the owner of a brand new contract extension, one which all parties involved believe will be his last as a big league ballplayer. The thought process was offered, and the praise was heaped upon Ortiz. There were even details as to what exactly this new contract looks like. (Along with making a guaranteed $16 million in 2015, Ortiz has a club option for 2016 that vests with 425 plate appearances and can build up to as much as $16 million. There is also a club option for '€™17, which can be worth as much as $16 million with a similar plate appearance incentives. To see all the details, click here.) "€œI guess you guys get tired of me talking about contract all the time," Ortiz said. "At least I'€™m going to have some time off asking questions and dealing with contract situation. I'€™m all about the business, just focusing on baseball. This is a big part of it." The talks regarding a new deal first surfaced in December, with Cherington meeting with Ortiz and his agent, Fern Cuza. The negotiations, however, didn'€™t kick up until spring training. Then, Sunday, an agreement was reached. Here is what was said at the press conference announcing the deal: CHERINGTON: "Everyone knows why we'€™re here today. Very happy to announce a contract extension with David. I think, as everyone has already written and talked about, we feel great that this virtually guarantees that David will finish his career with the Red Sox. And more importantly, probably to the three of us up here, I know for John and myself, we feel great that it means that David'€™s going to be in the middle of our lineup for longer, and that'€™s really important to us. "We wanted to take questions you have on behalf of ownership, who couldn'€™t be here today. just want to reiterate again that this was really something that was important to them, to John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino. We'€™ve had a chance to talk to David and his representatives, Fernando Cuza, Diego Bentz for several weeks. With a goal being to work out something that accomplishes what I just said. Accomplishes the goal of virtually guaranteeing David finishes his career here and keeping him here in the middle of our lineup for as long as we can." ORTIZ: "€œIt'€™s great, man. You guys know how personal I take my time in this organization. This organization has been great to me and my family. I'€™m always proud to wear this uniform and be part of this wonderful organization. "Well, every year is different. Every year, mentally, you get prepared for what is coming up next. In my case, I love playing the game. I love being part of this organization. Just knowing that you'€™re going to finish your career here with what I'€™ve already been for the past 11, 12 seasons, that'€™s something that'€™s a huge accomplishment. In my case, this is the place I want to be. This is the place that I know and now knowing that as long as I'€™m healthy and as long as I'€™m good to go, I'€™m going to be playing, and it'€™s just less stress." CHERINGTON: "In a lot of different ways, David is an outlier, an exception to the rule. There are just aren't many guys that produce at the level that he has to this point in their career. You can't really look at it as you would normally. Even as it relates to a contract discussion, you have to look at it differently. What we do know is that we always go off what we've seen most recently, and what we've seen most recently is a guy in 2013, even putting playoffs aside, even in the regular season, he was one of the best hitters in the league. We don't have any reason to believe that's not going to continue for some period of time. David takes terrific care of himself. He cares. He's got team goals. He's got personal goals. There's a lot of reasons for him to continue playing. We know, when he's playing, he wants to be good. He's got a lot of pride. There's really no comparison to make, but we go off what we see now and most recently, and that's a very good hitter and one who we continue to believe will continue to be a very good hitter for some period of time." ORTIZ: (On doing what only Ted Williams has done as a Red Sox at his age) "I've heard a lot about Mr. Ted Williams, but I can tell you about David Ortiz and what I'm capable to do. Like Ben said, I'm the kind of player that I take a lot of pride in what I do, and I know everybody around this organization watches me very close. Baseball is a career that, at some point, things start hitting a different direction. In my case, I haven't been able to see that light. I keep on working hard. I keep on trying. I know I'm the kind of hitter that everybody looks at me differently in this league, and I know what I need to do to continue being successful. I feel good. My mind is pretty much the same. I'm still hungry. It's like I told Ben when we were going through this negotiation: 'There's going to be that day when I'm not going to feel like doing what I normally do. When that happens, everybody is going to know it. Meanwhile, I feel great. I'm still hungry. I want to keep on winning. Winning is good. You feel great when you go out there and kick some ass. That's what I look forward." CHERINGTON: (On Ortiz'€™s leadership) "No question it was a factor. Obviously, the stuff that happens on the field is easiest to see. We know how good that has been. But David means a lot to the team in the clubhouse, outside the clubhouse, in the community. He is truly a cornerstone player in any way you can define that. That's why it was particularly important for us to find a way, if we were going to work on a contract extension, to find a way to virtually guarantee he remains with us for the remainder of his career. I don't think I need to add to the story (ed. Yes, you do, I wouldn't have asked the question otherwise) because you already know what he means to the team on the field, off the field, but certainly all those things were factored in." CHERINGTON: (On teams going away from one designated hitter) "American League teams are doing that because they don'€™t have David Ortiz. I think if a team has David Ortiz they wouldn'€™t be doing that. As David said, at some point in the future, there is going to be a time where he doesn'€™t feel like he could be doing what he has been doing but we don'€™t see that that time is coming anytime soon. And right now it'€™s very clear that our best chance to win is to have him in the middle of the lineup as our DH. It wouldn'€™t be to our benefit to do anything else as long as he'€™s on our side and doing what he'€™s capable of doing. David is an exception to the rule in many different ways. Fortunately for us, unfortunately for other teams, there aren'€™t many of those exceptions to the rule. Other teams have taken a different approach to DH, but that'€™s because they don'€™t have David Ortiz." ORTIZ: (On if DH is respected) "I think it'€™s respected. It'€™s just who is representing the position on your team. The reason why there are many teams rotating players in that position is because they haven'€™t found a guy that provides the need they'€™re looking for. And it'€™s hard to find. It'€™s something that when I first came to the Red Sox I wasn'€™t going to be the every-day DH. I worked my way up and the team felt comfortable with me in that position. And things have been going really good for a long time. It'€™s like the manager for the Orioles I read a note that he told to some newspaper, '€˜If I had David Ortiz, I don'€™t need to be rotating players.'€™ It'€™s like when you have a guy at any other position that can consistently provide what you'€™re looking for. You'€™re not going to be rotating a second baseman, a first baseman, a No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 pitcher. That'€™s the way I look at it."