Ortiz brings banged up body to last Yankee Stadium series
NEW YORK (AP) David Ortiz's stellar season isn't changing his mind about retirement.
''My body is counting the days, let me tell you,'' the Boston Red Sox star said Tuesday before his final series at Yankee Stadium. ''It's hard to play baseball when you are 40. I'm not going to lie to you, it's hard - especially when you're looking everywhere around and everybody's 20. You can be a dad.''
Ortiz began the night with a .321 batting average, a major league-leading 48 doubles, 37 homers and 124 RBIs. He hopes to earn a fourth World Series ring with the Red Sox.
''You often wonder why he's retiring,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ''Gosh, the year he's having, I would really have to think about coming back. But I'm going to encourage him to retire.''
Ortiz has homered six times against the Yankees this season. New York has planned a pregame ceremony for Thursday.
''Yankee Stadium, it might be my favorite place to hit, to play, regardless,'' he said. ''The dimensions are perfect for a left-handed power hitter. All the emotions, all the adrenaline, all the competition competing against the Yankees has been outstanding through the years.''
Ortiz has 53 regular season homers against the Yankees, all but one with Boston, tied with Hank Greenberg for fourth behind Jimmie Foxx (70), Ted Williams (62) and Manny Ramirez (55). His 31 homers at the old and new ballpark in the Bronx are tied with Mickey Vernon for second-most among visiting players, one ahead of Ted Williams and one behind Goose Goslin.
When he walked to the plate before flying out to center in the first inning, Ortiz was greeted by a mixture of boos and cheers, with some fans rising to applaud.
''I think there will be a lot of respect paid for a guy who's had some good moments in here,'' Red Sox manager John Farrell said, going on to compare this to the Fenway Park finales of Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter. ''Despite the rivalry, I think people appreciate baseball. They appreciate really talented players and I would expect David to receive a similar treatment.''
Ortiz has been booed at Yankee Stadium since he joined the Red Sox for the 2003 season. But the jeers got more intense as his career progressed and he helped the Red Sox overcome a 3-0 deficit against New York in the 2004 AL Championship Series, then won World Series titles that year and in 2007 and 2013.
''It got more powerful now,'' he said. ''They know me a little bit more now.''
Ortiz took notice that a fan launched a website, moonbigpapi.com, encouraging spectators at Ortiz's Yankee Stadium finale on Thursday to moon the Boston star.
''Can you imagine?'' Ortiz said, laughing. ''If it happens, I'm going to make sure I got my cell phone in my back pocket.''