Coming off a month in which David Ortiz showed signs of breaking out of a season-long slump, opposing fielders say they will no longer lay down on the field when the aging slugger is at the plate.
"It was nice while it lasted," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "You'd get to sit down and relax on the field four or five times a game when you played Boston. Then, after Big Papi finished striking out, you could just hop back up, all refreshed and ready to go for the rest of the game."
Ortiz says he is excited about his improved play.
"I've had a tough season and it was a great motivator for me as an accomplished player when I would be at the plate and look out over the field and see all the opposing fielders laying down or going into the locker room to get a drink," he said. "It made me work harder than I ever have even harder than back when I was extremely energized due to accidentally being on steroids."
Ortiz had 7 home runs and 18 RBI in August, his third consecutive month with at least those numbers in each category after totaling only 1 home run and 18 RBI in April and May combined. But his improved power numbers haven't convinced every opponent to get up off the ground when facing him.
"Have you seen his batting average? His average isn't budging from .220," said Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett. "I still see no reason I should have to stand up. He's either going to hit a home run over my head or strikeout. I'm not involved with either of those. The third option is he hits a pop-up. And the pitcher can get that. I'm grabbing a quick nap. Wake me when Jason Bay gets up."