Boston's Ortiz a leader on and off the diamond

Mon Oct 28, 2013 6:03pm EDT
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(Note: Strong language in the penultimate paragraph)

By Larry Fine

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) - David "Big Papi" Ortiz is flying high at the World Series, wreaking havoc on the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff and delivering a rousing dugout pep talk to inspire his Boston Red Sox teammates.

Boston players expect nothing less from their emotional team leader, who is hell bent on claiming his third World Series ring in 10 years after helping the Red Sox snap an 86-year title drought in 2004.

The stocky, 6-foot-4 Dominican, who joined the Red Sox in 2003 after being released by the Minnesota Twins, has hit 373 home runs in 11 seasons with Boston along with 17 postseason homers.

Four games into this year's World Series, Ortiz is 8-for-11 with four walks, driven in five runs and scored five, including his 3-for-3 performance in Sunday's 4-2 victory in Game Four that knotted the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

Yet the personal impact that Ortiz, 37, has on his teammates off the field has been just as impressive as the booming bat he wields at the plate.

"His willingness to help out younger players is better than anybody," catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia told Reuters during batting practice at Fenway Park prior to Game Two.

"He's just a super great guy who cares about everybody. A great teammate, always pulling for us. I can't say how many times he's pulled me off to the side just to tell me, 'man you're a great player.'"   Continued...

Boston Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz (34) reacts after the St. Louis Cardinals scored 2 runs during the seventh inning of game three of the MLB baseball World Series at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports