Ortiz 'fine' despite early slump
Francona meets with steady Sox slugger to offer reassurance
BOSTON -- There are countless players who can go into a slump and have it go largely unnoticed, be it in the media or even in the clubhouse. But David Ortiz has established such a reputation for hitting prowess that his woes will never go under the radar.
So in Red Sox Nation these days, the big question seems to be, "What's the matter with Big Papi?"
Ortiz went 0-for-3 on Friday night and is hitting .077 (3-for-39) over the season's first 11 games, with one homer and three RBIs.
After declining to speak with the media the past two days, Ortiz held a very brief interview before batting practice on Friday.
How is the big man with the big bat holding up amid the slump?
"I'm good, I'm good -- you know me," said Ortiz. "Everything is fine. We're winning. That's a good thing."
Is he frustrated?
"No," said Ortiz, as he walked away.
Clearly, Ortiz didn't want to get into the details of the slump. He'd rather find ways to get out of it.
The left-handed-hitting masher took extra batting practice on Thursday and had a brief meeting in manager Terry Francona's office on Friday.
Does Francona sometimes have to remind even players of Ortiz's magnitude not to press?
"I just did that," said Francona. "He told me he'd be OK."
Though Francona has a good relationship with most of his players, he's had a particularly close bond with Ortiz during their four-plus seasons together.
"I think with David, [the conversation] can be very casual," Francona said. "I think sometimes even players like David need to be reminded how good they are."
So even if Ortiz didn't want to admit it in his brief session with reporters, Francona can sense the slugger's frustration.
"Even with the best players in baseball, it still comes down to trying to do too much," Francona said. "David feels such a huge responsibility for what we're doing. Sometimes things snowball a little bit. All of a sudden, you get yourself in a rut, and you can't to get four hits in one at-bat. Or you see a guy show frustration after his first at-bat of a game, where you know that there's some carryover from the game before.
"You look up and see your batting average on the board, and that's not what he is, that's not who he's going to be. He's just gone through a tough first 10 games. I think we have a responsibility sometimes to remind him of what he does for our ballclub."
Though an Ortiz breakout didn't come, Friday's matchup certainly favored one. The DH went into the night 15-for-30 lifetime against Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang, with two homers and 10 RBIs.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.