FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — David Ortiz has a deliberate routine at the plate.
He sounded prepared to pay for it.
“I might run out of money,” Ortiz said during a colorful rant Wednesday about the new pace-of-play rule requiring hitters to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box in some instances.
Ortiz said he felt this provision, announced last week, unfairly targeted hitters. One of the more radical alterations discussed, a limit on the number of seconds between pitches, was not implemented.
“I’m not going to change my game,” the Boston designated hitter said. “I don’t care what they say.”
Major League Baseball can dock him, starting May 1, up to $500 per offense. Penalties were limited to warnings and fines, rather than allowing umpires to call strikes.
Another part of the initiative agreed to by MLB and the players’ association will be the installation of clocks in stadiums to limit the length of pitching changes and between-innings breaks. Managers, too, are no longer required to leave the dugout to request video reviews.
In his first remarks to reporters since arriving at spring training, Ortiz said he wasn’t aware of the batter’s box rule.
“So after the pitch, you’ve got to stay in the box, basically?” he said, incredulously.
Yes, with one foot, unless there has just been a foul ball, wild pitch or other specified reason.
“One foot?” Ortiz said.
Yes, to speed up the game.
Ortiz then used a profanity to describe his reaction to the rule.
“When you come out of the box, you’re thinking about what a guy’s trying to do,” he continued. “This is not like we go to the plate with an empty mind. No, no, no. When you see guys pitch coming out of the box, we’re not doing it just for doing it. Our mind is speeding up. I saw one pitch, when I come out, I’m thinking, ‘What is this guy going to try to do to me next?’ I’m not walking around just because there’s cameras all over the place and I want my buddies back home to see me and this and that.”
Ortiz blamed pitchers for wasting more time than hitters.
“How about the guy on the mound who goes like this for three hours?” he said, shaking his head back and forth to mimic the act of shaking off a sign.
Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, one of the faster-working pitchers in the major leagues, said he loved the new rules.
“Bring on the pitch clock. Bring on whatever. I like it, because it makes the hitter feel uncomfortable,” the 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner said. “I’m already fast, so it’s only going to put more pressure on the hitter that has to get in the box and get ready before his routine. If you’ve got some guys who have a very deliberate routine — (Robinson) Cano and Ortiz and others that have a very deliberate routine … they’re going to have to speed up a little bit and that may take just this much out of their game. You know, that could be a enough to get a pop out instead of a home run sometimes. I’m great with it.”
Manager John Farrell stressed the importance of letting the new rules play out for a season.
“Anytime a game is played a certain way for as many years as it has, an adjustment is going to have some growing pains associated to it,” Farrell said. “But I think as long as everyone is aware of what the attention is and what we’re trying to get to, maybe those growing pains become less frustrating.”
The 39-year-old Ortiz had an .873 on-base-plus-slugging percentage last season, still a robust number for almost any player in the majors but his second-lowest since joining the Red Sox in 2003. He hit 35 home runs with 104 RBIs in 142 games, which is exactly what they’ve paid him to do.
Ortiz is set to make $16 million in 2015. His contract includes a $10 million club option for 2016 that could escalate to $16 million and become guaranteed, with the same provisions for 2017 based on plate appearances and passing a team physical exam.
As for how much longer he’s planning on playing?
“You guys asked the same question to Tom Brady last year,” Ortiz said, adding with a smile: “We are like the wine. Remember that.”
Brady recently quarterbacked the New England Patriots to a fourth Super Bowl title. That’s one more championship ring than Ortiz has received with the Red Sox.
“That’s my motivation now,” he said.
Ortiz, who is 34 home runs short of 500, wasn’t ready to reflect on his legacy yet.
“Once you start thinking about that you’re thinking about stopping,” he said.
Ortiz acknowledged the need to conserve energy at his age, gaining more fuel from his mind these days than his body. He didn’t sound like the end of his career was near, though, with “no date” or “no time” or “no years” to measure his track toward retirement.
“I signed a contract last year that basically tells me as long as you do what you’re doing and keep on helping us out, you’re going to play,” Ortiz said, adding: “I need to have that anger. I need to have that cockiness when I’m playing. I need to be who I am. … When that goes away, I guess it’s time to go away, too.”