So rather than head to the bat rack, Big Papi called a little team meeting. Right there in the dugout during Game 4 of the World Series, to deliver a serious pep talk.
Ortiz said his theme was a simple one: “Have fun, play the game the way you know how.”
That’s not quite how his teammates heard it.
“It was like 24 kindergartners looking up at their teacher. He got everyone’s attention and we looked him right in the eyes,” said Jonny Gomes, who responded with a three-run homer Sunday night to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2. “That message was pretty powerful.”
“Just gave us a little kick in the butt that we needed,” he said.
“I’m the veteran dude on this team, that’s why I have to say something,” he said. “I sensed everyone was feeling down, frustrated, like a sinking boat.”
“I told them, `Don’t do anything more than you’re capable, don’t force things out.’ I mean, if you’re a David Ross, don’t try to do things as if you’re David Ortiz,” he said.
Ortiz got three more hits, boosting his stock as an October star. He hollered at his teammates from second base after a double in the fifth, then gathered them the next inning.
“Sometimes you get to this stage and you try to overdo things,” he said. “And it doesn’t work that way.”
Ortiz hustled home to score a run and even provided a bit of comic relief.
All said, a complete game for the designated hitter-turned-first baseman. And also a pretty impressive Series so far _ Ortiz has eight of Boston’s 24 hits, and has reached base in 12 of 16 plate appearances against the St. Louis staff.
“I think they’re all watching and realizing that he’s tough to get out right now,” Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said.