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Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff wrote:There might have been some relief in his seventh-inning walk, or his eighth-inning walk. They weren't strikeouts, after all. They didn't negatively affect his average, unlike so many at-bats lately.
Because David Ortiz, right now, is not David Ortiz. He looks awkward at the plate, not gaining enough power from his knees, not driving the ball, not doing much of anything. He has mentioned that some days his right knee doesn't feel all that good.
So with those walks and the two strikeouts and one double-play ball that came before it, Ortiz stretched his season-starting slump to 3 for 36. He did score on that first walk, motoring around on Manny Ramírez's double to center field, which proved to be a key run in Boston's 12-6 win over the Tigers at Fenway Park.
"He's just frustrated right now," hitting coach Dave Magadan said. "He started getting outside the strike zone, which is something that he doesn't normally do. He showed a good sign tonight, last two at-bats, took some pitches that are outside the zone. When he's doing that, he's at his best. It doesn't matter who you are, if you're swinging at balls, you're not going to get hits."
Asked if Ortiz's offseason surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, and the shortened offseason preparation time, might be the reasons for the slow start, Magadan demurred.
"I think David's tough," he said. "He doesn't like to make excuses. I'm not going to make any for him. He knows that. He's very frustrated by the start."
It's his worst streak as a member of the Red Sox, though not quite his worst stretch overall. In 2001 with the Twins, Ortiz was 0 for 15 from Sept. 6-18.
Ortiz is hitless in his last 10 at-bats, with one hit in his last 22 since he homered April 2 in Oakland, Calif.
He spent about 30 minutes before last night's game taking extra batting practice with Magadan.
"For me, it's not as much something mechanical, but his pitch selection," Magadan said. "He's hitting some balls hard right at people. He hasn't had a whole lot of balls fall in for him. Once that starts happening, we'll see the personality of old, he'll start rolling.
"You can't hide from that at this time of year. Because you're going up there, it's on the [scoreboard], you've got stat sheets all over the clubhouse. You can't hide from it."
Ortiz didn't seem particularly tense in the clubhouse, though he was not his ebullient self. He affably declined to speak to reporters before and after the game. He dressed quickly after the game and headed out of the clubhouse.
Just as he knows what's on the scoreboard for all to see, he knows what's coming next. The Yankees. And that can't make him any less hard on himself than he likely has been in a season that's only in its second week.
"I think the biggest thing is just trying to get him to relax," manager Terry Francona said. "As good a hitter as he is, you know, guys feel it. He understands his responsibility, he feels his responsibility probably more than anyone here. Sometimes he carries too much weight on his shoulders. When you ask about the walks, that's good. I think David's going through a period now where he feels like every pitch is a strike, he's getting down in the count, he sees a pitch and he fouls it. That's what part of going through a tough time is.
"He'll get untracked, make somebody pay for it."
Just like last time. Because, back in 2001, after Ortiz had suffered through a 3-for-37 stretch, he finished it off Sept. 25 in grand, David Ortiz style - with an eighth-inning home run to tie the game.
Noggy wrote:I think Boston should take him out of the lineup and let him rest for the next... let's say 3 days. Bad knees or not, he's due to go off and that is scaring me right now....
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