David Ortiz is known as Big Papi for a reason. The Boston Red Sox designated hitter and All-sSar eight times over holds the team record for home runs in a season with 54 and has over 400 home runs in his career. This season — at the age of 37 — he’s hitting .353 with four home runs and 17 RBIs in 68 at-bats. But does Ortiz have a little help? Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe talked with The John Feinstein Show about his conversation with Ortiz concerning the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
“My eyes told me it was time to ask,” said Shaughnessy. “We have this 37-year-old guy getting better each year. And then he has an Achilles injury, misses nine months, no spring training, rolls out of bed and he’s Rambo hitting .460.” Many of the signs are there. Ortiz also tested positive in 2003, so he has a history with PEDs.
“David is a stand-up guy,” said Shaughnessy. “He’s done so much for the community. Everybody loves him. He’s won two championships. I understand his popularity. It doesn’t exclude him from being asked about it.”
Ortiz denied using PEDs in the interview, attributing his improvement and success to hard work.
The interview went well, as these things go, though Ortiz seemed to grow angrier as it progressed. “We shook hands, it was a very good ending to the interview,” said Shaughnessy. “I thanked David several times. I said that I don’t like this either. This is awkward. It’s uncomfortable.”
The public seems to have rallied to Ortiz’s defense following his tweet. “It tells you the power of Twitter,” said Shaughnessy. “He has 400,000 followers, so when he sends out a tweet Wednesday night, this day-old column gets recharged. And then, of course, them losing and him going hit-less a couple days has fueled that.”
Ortiz’s Dominican background also helps him fit the profile. Many of the positive tests in the last eight years — 57 percent by some estimates — have come from Dominican players.
“It doesn’t mean if you’re Dominican, you’re dirty, obviously,” said Shaughnessy. “But when you get into the notion of the footprint here, it’s one more thing.”