BOSTON (AP) — David Ortiz missed nearly half of last year's disastrous Red Sox season with a heel injury. Then he was sidelined with it throughout spring training and the start of this season.
There were whispers that the slugger who had won two World Series titles with Boston was at the end of the line.
And Big Papi heard them.
"People are always going to talk trash," the slugging designated hitter said Tuesday. "You're never going to make everyone happy so what you do is just come in, do your thing and what can those people do about it? In my case, I'm done putting attention to what people have to say."
They've been saying nice things going into Wednesday night's opener against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Ortiz led the Red Sox with a .309 batting average, 30 homers and 103 RBIs this season. In Game 2 of the AL championship series against the Detroit Tigers, he hit a game-tying grand slam in the eighth. Boston won 6-5 on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's RBI single in the ninth.
But Ortiz makes a huge contribution off the field with his bubbly personality and winning smile.
Cardinals reliever Randy Choate saw that when he was playing baseball in the Dominican Republic in the offseason.
"We had a pickup softball game and it was an off day and we were all hanging out," he said. "I remember someone threw one and he hit one, literally, 500 feet. It was unbelievable, but he was just there having a good time and hanging out with everybody, being down to earth."
Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks was in awe when he saw Ortiz the first time he went to spring training.
"He carries himself very well," Middlebrooks said. "Just the confidence he has rubs off on everybody. Then last year, getting to know him, being able to work with him, all the things he's done for this game, being there to help the rookies, he's such an open book. That's what surprised me the most."
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