David Ortiz is not pleased that his name got pulled into the John Lackey-Nelson Cruz thing


To review:

  • John Lackey got shelled by Nelson Cruz the other day;
  • Lackey makes some whiney comments after the game about how Nelson Cruz was suspended for Biogenesis stuff last year in an effort to discredit his performance;
  • Buck Showalter says that Lackey shouldn’t say such things given that every team has someone you could point a finger at regarding PEDs. Showalter mentions no names.
  • The Commentariat notes that, obviously, David Ortiz is one of those people on Lackey’s team at whom one could, if one desired, point a finger.

The latest: David Ortiz goes apepoop over people — specifically people at MLB Network — mentioning him by name in all of this. From WEEI:

“But then, when they are commenting about what Showalter said, they brought my name up,” he added. “Then one of the guys wanted to say that I got a free pass. And to be honest with you, in this country, nobody gets a free pass. He wants to make it sound like I got a free pass because nobody can point fingers at me directly. But the reason why I got that fake [expletive] free pass that he’s saying is because they pointed fingers at me with no proof. It’s easier to do it that way than having something that they can say, ‘Yes, you did this, you did that.’ My [expletive], I call straight up bull. Let me tell you. You don’t get no free pass here, especially a guy like me. I don’t get no free pass. That free pass B.S. that they want to talk about over there, they can shove it up their [expletive].

On the one hand, one has to roll ones eyes at this because, yes, Ortiz has gotten way, way lighter treatment in the arena of public opinion compared to just about every other player who has ever been associated with PEDs in any way, be it via evidence or innuendo. No one talks about his accomplishments or his team’s accomplishments as being “tainted,” hardly anyone, when discussing his legacy or his Hall of Fame chances, brings up his PED positive in the 2003 survey testing the way they do for Sammy Sosa or the way they did for A-Rod back when the 2003 survey testing was all that was known about his PED history. Ortiz clearly has received much softer treatment than others in this regard.

On the other hand, Ortiz’s treatment, in my view anyway, has been far closer to fair than it has been for anyone else and, if anything, the so-called “free pass” he’s gotten should be the rule, not the exception.

As Barry Patchesky notes over at Deadspin, Ortiz’s name was only made public in connection to that 2003 survey test because an overzealous law enforcement action brought them to light (the test results were supposed to be destroyed). Ortiz took the punishment his crime carried with it at the time (i.e. none) and he has never once tested positive for anything since nor has he been implicated in any of baseball’s various drug scandals. No, one cannot ignore the information that surfaced about him years and years ago, but the fact that we generally don’t dwell on Ortiz’s transgression is a good thing, not a bad thing, and is probably how everyone else who gets caught up in this stuff should be dealt with. Apply the applicable punishment, file it in with every other fact about the guy, but don’t let it be the entire story about the guy and his career.

Ortiz has made a habit lately of throwing public temper tantrums, and it’s a bad look for him even though — as is often the case — he is correct on the merits. So his going off like this is pretty lame. But Lackey bringing up Cruz’s past after Cruz took him downtown was pretty lame too. And people bringing up Ortiz’s treatment by the public, as if Ortiz should have to answer for it in some way, may be the lamest thing in all of this.

Shohei Ohtani is having a brutal spring training

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Spring training is tough for players under the best of circumstances. Even in an age when players work out all year, getting back into the swing of baseball-at-full-speed is tough. Many players spend the bulk of February and March knocking off the rust and getting their timing back. Because of this — and because the games have no real stakes — it is not wise to take spring training statistics super seriously. Especially if the player in question is assured of a spot on the roster and is trying to avoid injury before the regular season arrives.

Spring training for Shohei Ohtani is doubly difficult. Not only does he have to knock the rust off from the offseason, but he (a) has to get used to a new country and language; (b) has to get to know all new teammates, coaches and, really, an entirely new baseball culture; and (c) do all of that while dealing with a media crush that hasn’t been seen in baseball since Ichiro first arrived 17 years ago. In short, Ohtani is under massive pressure and has to make massive adjustments in a short time.

With that said, neither the Angels nor Ohtani can be all that pleased with how his spring training has gone. In two actual major league exhibition games he’s allowed eight runs in two and two-thirds innings. Seven of those came on Friday when he was shelled by the Rockies in an inning and a third. If you include B-games against minor leaguers, he has allowed 17 runs on 18 hits, four of which were homers, in four games. As a hitter he’s 2-for-20.

As Jeff Fletcher of the OC Register notes, Ohtani’s peripherals are not bad, as he has struck out a lot of guys and walked very few and the average on balls in play against him has been brutal, which is not super sustainable. Bad luck and some fat pitches at a time of the year when luck doesn’t really matter and the pitches, because of the rust, are likely to be fatter than normal.

As Fletcher also notes, Nolan Arenado, who faced Ohtani on Friday, said that his stuff looked good and that he’s going to be a good big league pitcher. Ohtani and Angels officials are all striking the right notes about bad luck and adjustments, saying that they’re not worried.

I imagine they’d be worrying even less if things had gone well this spring. Unless of course this is just a professional wrestling-style work aimed at getting more of us to watch his regular season debut, in which he’ll reveal that he was sandbaggin’ all along.