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Ortiz turns the page

4/11/2014

By John Jeansonne

McClatchy-Tribune

NEW YORK — Yankees antagonist David Ortiz has turned the page. But he was willing to read it first.

Before Thursday night’s 2014 renewal of the old feud between the Yankees and Ortiz’s Boston Red Sox, Ortiz expounded on the rivalry’s changing personnel, and even his own inevitable athletic demise, amid the immutability of baseball.

In the world according to Big Papi, the new normal of having seven-year teammate Jacoby Ellsbury now on the other side is, in fact, normal. Because …

“That’s baseball,” Ortiz said. “I mean, players always get to be replaced, and life continues. I can mention thousands of players that were here since I got here and they’re all gone, you know what I mean?

“Same with the Yankees. Man, you’re looking around and it’s like, ‘What’s going on?’ But that’s baseball.

“Jeter is going to be replaced someday, I’m going to be replaced another day, and baseball is going to continue. And I think, as a player, we just appreciate the time that we’re still around, and the fun times, the memories, and we take it home with us when we’re done with baseball.”

Yankees fans afforded Ortiz the obligatory boos before his at-bats. His long sixth-inning double was sporting retort on his 1-for-4 night.

He has not been in touch with the banished Alex Rodriguez “at all,” he said, and didn’t want to characterize either Rodriguez’s or Robinson Cano’s absence from Yankee Stadium.

“I don’t know,” he said. “This is the first game we played against the Yankees” since Rodriguez’s suspension and Cano’s departure via free agency.

But he summoned Yankees rookie Yangervis Solarte for a brief meeting near the Boston dugout before the game. “I was talking to one of my boys and I said, ‘Tell him I want to say hi,’ ” Ortiz said.

“I watched the game he had against Houston. This guy has so much intensity. I love to see that in a young player.”

There was no selfie taken of the two, and Ortiz laughed heartily at the suggestion, given the flap he caused earlier this month when he snapped a self-portrait of himself with President Obama and the White House later learned the picture’s digital distribution was part of a Samsung marketing campaign.

Ortiz said he received no criticism whatsoever from Washington. Turn the page.

It could be, he acknowledged, that the Yankees-Red Sox quarrel had “a little more fire” earlier in his 12-year career in Boston. “Every year is different, you know?” he said. “But the game is still the same, the players are still excited.”

He certainly doesn’t need to forgive Ellsbury for going over to the enemy camp. “I can’t control that,” Ortiz said.

“He can’t, either. That’s baseball in today’s day. Whoever offers you the best contract, that’s where you’re going to be. They come to you and put a good contract on the table, you’re going to go out there and do your best for it.”

At 38, though, Ortiz sees no uniform change for himself. “Too late,” he said.