FORT MYERS, Fla. — Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz has a rejoinder for the critics who insist he should honor the final year of his contract rather than request a one-year extension.
“I’m tired of hearing them talk [expletive] about me when I talk about my contract,” Ortiz told the Boston Herald after reporting to the Red Sox’ camp Feb. 18. “Hey, every time I talk about my contract, I earn it, [expletive]. So don’t be giving me that [expletive].”
Ortiz is coming off a historic World Series in which he batted .688 and earned MVP honors. With only this season remaining on his two-year, $29 million contract, he publicly stated in December that he would like a one-year extension. Since then, critics in the media have lined up to tell Ortiz to shut his mouth, even though he emerged as a franchise icon who continues to produce 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons into his late 30s.
“I just want people to stop talking to me about that,” Ortiz said en route to his car after attending his first spring training workout. “When you put up numbers like I’m putting up, who’s thinking about retiring, know what I’m saying? People keep on asking me, how long do you want to play? When are you going to retire? Dude, look at my numbers. I ain’t planning on retiring right now. When I slow down, then I’ll retire.”
Ortiz, who turned 38 in November, did not show any sign of slowing down last year. He batted .309 with 30 homers, 103 RBIs and a .959 on-base-plus-slugging before dominating in the postseason. If not for Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, the Red Sox likely would not have advanced to the World Series, to say nothing of winning it.
And despite reports to the contrary, Ortiz asked the Red Sox only for one more year, not a long-term extension that would keep him under contract into his 40s. He will make $15 million this season and would like to make $15 million 2015, too.
“Guys putting up my numbers, they’re making $25, $30 million. I’m not asking for that. I’m asking for half of it,” Ortiz said. “And [critics] are still [complaining] about it?”
With the exception of the debate over his contract demands, Ortiz has been in fine spirits after winning his third World Series ring.
“I’ve been doing my thing, getting prepared for the season,” Ortiz said. “I’m living the dream.”
Tough to repeat
Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia knows how difficult it is to win back-to-back World Series. The memory of the 2008 season, in which the Red Sox’ bid for a repeat title ended with a Game 7 loss in the ALCS, is still fresh in his mind.
“It’s the toughest thing to do in sports,” Pedroia said. “I remember  was a huge letdown. Really disappointed. Shoot, I think we were four or five innings away, winning in the fourth or fifth. You don’t want that feeling. Once you win, you want to stay there and be on top all the time. That just gives us something extra to push for to always stay there.”
Pedroia, the Red Sox’ de facto captain, had offseason surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb that hampered him throughout last season and may have contributed to hitting only nine home runs. Upon reporting to camp, he declared himself fully healed, his main inconvenience is a pin inserted in the thumb for four weeks at the start of the offseason.