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Red Sox Legend David Ortiz On Retirement, Steroid Rumors

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David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox enters the dugout after batting practice before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox enters the dugout after batting practice before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

 

There is a strong argument that David Ortiz is both the greatest and the most beloved player in Boston history. Sure, Ted Williams and Yaz are all-time icons, but Ortiz has the individual achievements (540 home runs so far) and, above all, was a key player on the first three Red Sox World Series champs since 1918—indeed, his last postseason performance saw him collect a World Series MVP as he strafed the St. Louis Cardinals for an insane .688 Series average. Big Papi’s speech after the Boston marathon bombing also remains one of those moments that transcends sports and shows how deeply he’ll always be linked to the city.

On the eve of his announced retirement, he has given an extended interview to Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci. Verducci presses Ortiz on why he would stick to his retirement pledge (he will be the only player to retire after a season with 30 home runs and 100 RBIs), with Ortiz insisting it’s time: “I’ve been dealing with injuries the past four years. Also, [I’m] not getting any younger, man. You look around, everybody’s 20 years old. Also, this traveling thing, it catches up with you.”

David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox speaks during a pre-game ceremony in honor of the bombings of Marathon Monday before a game at Fenway Park on April 20, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox speaks during a pre-game ceremony in honor of the bombings of Marathon Monday before a game at Fenway Park on April 20, 2013, in Boston, Massachusetts. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

 

He expresses a fondness for also retiring announcer Vin Scully (“My man”), a regret for the six seasons in Minnesota before he reached the Red Sox (“My biggest disappointment has got to be the way my career started”), and does his best to put to rest links to any steroid rumors.

Hall of Fame voters are already biased against designated hitters like Ortiz and PED allegations have kept out players from Bonds to Clemens, so it makes sense why Ortiz would make a short (but strong) case for his innocence.

The claims against Ortiz have always been relatively weak, as it all stems from the 2009 leak of a list of players said to have failed a drug test in 2003… except for the players’ union and MLB conceded not all of the listed players had committed a violation. (It’s also worth observing that, as Ortiz notes, baseball’s “drug policies started in 2004”, so it can be argued that even the guilty on the list may have violated the spirit of baseball, but not the actual rules.)

David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run in the 16th inning as Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees defends on April 10, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images)
David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox hits a solo home run in the 16th inning as Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees defends on April 10, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Elsa/Getty Images)

 

Of course, Ortiz says the strongest proof of his innocence is his continued performance:

“I kept on banging. So, you know, the reality is that it’s a noise that I think was more damaging [to some players’ careers] than anything else, because a lot of guys that were pronounced [as having tested] positive for things or having been caught using things, their careers went away. Yet I am [here]. Let me tell you, there’s not one player in baseball, not one player, that has been drug-tested more than David Ortiz. I guarantee you that. I never failed a test.”

To read the full interview, click here.