Ortiz: 'I can never hit in spring training'

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox catcher David Ross, who is rarely at a loss for words, had a creative response to the question of how big a story it should be that David Ortiz has just two hits all spring and is sporting an .063 average.

"After hitting .700 [.688, 11-for-16] in the World Series, he should be allowed to start the season at .300 and go from there," Ross said. "He's 1-for-3 to start the season, which is probably a bad average for him."

For long-time veterans like Ortiz and Chipper Jones, whom Ross played with in Atlanta, tolerating the long weeks of spring training for 20 years poses a challenge.

"I think that's why you protect those guys so much," Ross said. "They know what they need more than we do. David's David, man. That guy can hit. He still wakes up in the morning, gets in the box against Nolan Ryan, he's got a chance, you know?"

Ortiz laughed loudly when Ross's suggestion was relayed to him.

"I can never hit in spring training," he said. "Ever.

"I was talking to one of the guys the other day. I got to go through a lot of things, routine and stuff, that I can never do in spring training. They pitch me the same way, always. They pitch me tough. That's why I got to go through my routines to get there.

"The thing is, with me, I don't really give a s--- about spring training. I don't put a lot into it."

Ortiz missed all of spring last season, then hit .500 with 15 RBIs in his first nine games after coming off the disabled list two weeks into the season. He also had an extra-base hit in nine straight games (April 21-May 1). Ortiz, who has a double and home run in 32 spring at-bats while striking out 10 times, has long opined that spring training lasts much longer than necessary, especially for position players.

"I'm not concerned with what David has done through 30 at-bats," manager John Farrell said. "You watch BP, the bat speed is clearly there and the power's there. He's seeing pitches. He's going to get more everyday at-bats starting Sunday through the remainder of camp. So I have no concern with David."

Farrell said he has had multiple conversations with his 38-year-old designated hitter, a nine-time All-Star who became the first Sox player since Manny Ramirez in 2001 to lead the team in average (.309), home runs (30) and RBIs (103).

"If he needed more at-bats, or wanted to do things a little bit differently -- he's had spring trainings that are so drastically different," Farrell said. "If you look at the last two years, what he went through last year where he had no at-bats, then had (18) at-bats in Triple-A, and had one of the better years of his career.

"He's getting in shape. He's seeing pitches. Personally, I think he's going to be fine by the time we get through the end of next week."