David Ortiz continued his recent hot-hitting on Friday night, slugging two mammoth home runs and driving in four runs in a 7-2 win over the Tigers.
The first home run, a three-run shot off the struggling Max Scherzer in the first inning, traveled an estimated distance of 459 feet to right-center field, according to HitTracker, good enough for one of the longest home runs hit in the major leagues this season.
Of course, it wasn’t long ago that most of us were ready to give up on the 34-year-old slugger. After all, he batted just .143 (8-for-56) with one home run and four RBI in April. But after his big night on Friday, Ortiz is hitting .333 (11-for-33) with five home runs and 11 RBI over nine games in May. He enters Saturday’s action with a season-high .213/.283/.483 batting line.
In turn, Ortiz has some words for those who doubted him, via Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald:
“I’m feeling good,” he said. “Swinging the bat – seeing the ball and
hitting it, man. You know? There’s people that know a lot about the
game, they think they got everything figured out. Just tell them that
the season is not over after April. It’s over after October.”
Noted. Ortiz is certainly showing signs of life here, but what I’m most interested to see is whether Red Sox manager Terry Francona will push his DH platoon to the side on Saturday and start Ortiz against the left-hander Dontrelle Willis.
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.