Big Papi admits to being a little floppy on induction speech

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BOSTON — David Ortiz made a Hall of Fame career out of staring down pitchers with the game on the line.

Looking out at the Cooperstown crowd for his induction speech – that’s a whole different story.

“I can’t wait for it to be over with,” the longtime Red Sox slugger said this month as he looked ahead to his July 24 enshrinement ceremony. “I’m freaking out about the whole thing. Too much. Too much going on.”

A 10-time All-Star who helped Boston win three World Series championships, Ortiz became the 58th first-ballot Hall of Famer when he was the only player elected by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Era committee selections Gil Hodges, Jim Kaat, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Bud Fowler and Buck O’Neil will join him in the Class of 2022.

Ortiz batted .286 and hit 541 home runs with 1,768 RBIs in a 20-year career with the Red Sox and Twins. He also had a .289 average with 17 homers and 61 RBIs in nine postseasons — batting .688 to earn MVP honors in the 2013 World Series.

Among all those hits were game-winners that earned him a reputation as one of the most clutch hitters in baseball history, including back-to-back, extra-inning walk-offs in Games 4 and 5 of the 2004 AL championship series against the Yankees, when the Red Sox became the first major league team to overcome a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series. They went on to sweep St. Louis in the World Series for their first title since 1918.

To Ortiz, that was just part of being a ballplayer.

“I’m not saying it’s easy. But you get used to it,” he said. “I had a 20-year career. That was expected. You don’t expect to be on a podium being inducted into the Hall of Fame any day.”

Adding to the stress: He will be working the July 19 All-Star Game in Los Angeles for Fox.

“I’ve never had so much on my plate,” he said. “I’m a guy that’s good at handling things. But it’s a lot.”

Ortiz said he hadn’t made much progress on what he will say at the induction ceremony but that he mostly wanted to thank people who helped him along the way.

“My speech is not going to be anything crazy. It’s not going to be anything to take me three hours,” he said. “I have some significant people in my life and my career.”

The soon-to-be Hall of Famer spoke to The Associated Press to discuss his new eyeglass line. The Zenni glasses feature names like “Santo Domingo” and “PapiVision” and even “Gold Glove” for the player who never won one of those and spent more time as designated hitter than any previous Cooperstown inductee.


Brian Cashman signs 4-year contract to remain Yankees GM

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SAN DIEGO — Brian Cashman has signed a four-year contract to remain the New York Yankees Senior Vice President and General Manager. The announcement was made during the first day of baseball’s Winter Meetings.

Cashman, New York’s GM since 1998, had been working on a handshake agreement since early November, when his five-year contract expired.

The Yankees were swept by four games in the AL Championship Series and haven’t reached the World Series since winning in 2009. It is the franchise’s longest title drought since an 18-year gap between 1978-96.

Cashman’s main goal during the offseason is trying to re-sign AL MVP Aaron Judge.

Judge hit an American League-record 62 homers this season with a .311 batting average and 131 RBIs. He turned down the Yankees’ offer on the eve of opening day of a seven-year contract that would have paid $213.5 million from 2023-29.

While Judge remains on the market, Cashman was able to re-sign Anthony Rizzo on Nov. 15 to a two-year contract worth $40 million after turning down a $16 million player option.

Cashman has been the Yankees general manager since 1998. He has been with the organization since 1986, when he was a 19-year old intern in the scouting department. In his 25 seasons as GM, the Yankees have reached the postseason 21 times, including four World Series championships and six American League titles.