David Ortiz dismissed concerns about his age, health and dedication after signing a two-year contract extension with the Boston Red Sox. The designated hitter, who turns 37 on Nov. 18, was limited to 90 games last season because of an Achilles tendon injury.
“There’s one thing I’m going to make clear right here, I am prepared to play,” Ortiz, who hit .318 with 23 home runs and 60 runs batted in last season, said yesterday at a news conference at Boston’s Fenway Park.
The Red Sox didn’t disclose financial terms of the contract. It’s worth $26 million and could reach $30 million with performance incentives, ESPN said. Ortiz made almost $14.6 million during the 2012 Major League Baseball season.
Ben Cherington, the Red Sox’s general manager, said bringing Ortiz back was the franchise’s top offseason priority.
“We want David to retire as a Red Sox and we hope that’s many years from now,” Cherington said. “But right now, we’re just happy he’s sitting right there in the middle of our lineup.”
Last month, former manager Bobby Valentine said that Ortiz, who returned from injury for one game on Aug. 24, quit on the team the day after Boston dealt first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitcher Josh Beckett and outfielder Carl Crawford to the Los Angeles Dodgers as part of nine-player trade.
The Red Sox had a 46-44 record on July 16, the day Ortiz sustained the injury that would keep him from all but one remaining game last season. The team went 23-49 the rest of the way to finish at 69-93, its worst record since 1965, and fired Valentine after one year.
“Ortiz came back after spending about six weeks on the disabled list and we thought it was only going to be a week,” Valentine told NBC Sports’ “Costas Tonight” on Oct. 23. “He got two hits the first two times up, drove in a couple runs; we were off to the races. Then he realized that this trade meant that we’re not going to run this race and we’re not even going to finish the race properly and he decided not to play anymore. I think at that time it was all downhill from there.”
The first question at yesterday’s news conference was for Ortiz’s reaction to Valentine’s comments.
“You guys already know how important, to myself, to be on the field to represent the organization the way I do,” Ortiz said. “We wouldn’t be talking about what we’re talking about right now if things would be the way as the ex-manager say.”
Ortiz last season made his eighth All-Star appearance of his 16-year career, all coming in his 10 seasons with Boston. He played his first six years with the Minnesota Twins.
Ortiz is the major-league career leader among designated hitters with 353 homers, 410 doubles, 778 extra-base hits, 3,101 total bases and 1,147 RBI in that spot.
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