A serious David Ortiz speaks his mind

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Ortiz, the man known as Big Papi in the baseball world, has become the longtime face of the Boston Red Sox.

Without Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield around the clubhouse, Ortiz is now the longest-tenured member on the team. He's always around with that big smile, that big laugh, and he's always ready to hand out hugs to anyone who is willing to be embraced by the big man.

Ortiz was in a different frame of mind on Saturday.

When the team held its annual organizational meeting with ownership, management and players, GM Ben Cherington and manager Bobby Valentine led the discussion. Team president/CEO Larry Lucchino also spoke.

After they were done, Ortiz stood up and spoke.

He wasn't asked to by ownership or management, and even his teammates did not know that he wanted to say a few words. Ortiz spoke only for a few minutes, but he spoke from his heart. When he was done, he received an ovation from his teammates.

"That was real important to hear one of your peers get up and just speak about things that happened," said outfielder Carl Crawford. "He's been here the longest, so he obviously knows what to say and when to say it. Guys listen to David when he talks and he has a big voice in this room. For him to get up and say that, hopefully it's something we can rally around in the 2012 season."

Ortiz decided he wanted to say a few words when he woke up on Saturday morning and was preparing for the team's first full-squad workout of spring training. The meeting began at approximately 9 a.m. and lasted about 45 minutes.

"We have these meetings and we never step up and say things, we just sit there and do nothing but listen," Ortiz said. "Today, I think it was a good time for us, as players, make sure owners don't feel guilty about [2011]. They did a hell of a job last year putting a good team together and after that it's not on them it's on us."

A major theme of the meeting was the importance of beginning a new chapter. Focus on the present and future, and learn from the past without dwelling on it.

Valentine made the decision to ban alcohol in the clubhouse and also on charter flights of the last leg of a road trip. Ortiz referred to the new rules as reminders because players should know what to do and how to act.

"Bobby said one thing that's absolutely true: When you do something to embarrass this organization, you're embarrassing yourself, too," Ortiz said. "It's like I told my teammates, wearing the Red Sox on your chest, you've got to be proud of that. You've got to be absolutely proud of that because of the history of this organization. Hopefully everybody takes that personal and be responsible and know we are employees here and we have rules to follow and we have a boss and we need to do what he wants us to do."

There were plenty of changes to the Red Sox during the offseason and everyone in the organization is still getting used to all of them. It was interesting to see how the new clubhouse here at JetBlue Park at Fenway South also received an overnight face-lift in time for the team meeting on Saturday.

Painted in large black block letters on the walls of the clubhouse were two quotes, one from Ted Williams and the other by Carl Yastrzemski.

One reads: "I think about baseball when I wake up in the morning. I think about it all day and I dream about it at night. The only time I don't think about it is when I'm playing it." -- Carl Yastrzemski.

The other reads: "Ballplayers are not born great. They are not born great hitters or pitchers or managers, and luck isn't a big factor. No one has come up with a substitute for hard work." -- Ted Williams.

While these were on the wall for everyone to see, Ortiz decided to make his own statement during the meeting.

"It's not about the things you say," Ortiz said. "It's about what you put in play. From the first day since I walked into this clubhouse 10 years ago, I looked around and came in with an idea to make this organization proud of what I do. We're not perfect, but thank God, the 10 years that I have here, I haven't been involved in anything that would embarrass this organization. You've got your issues with things once in a while, but you can correct things you can deal with. I always look at this organization like it's my first day here."

Ortiz was in a serious mood all day. He walked into the complex focused. And when he left for the day, his mindset did not change.

"We all have responsibility -- all of us," Ortiz said. "There's not one guy here who doesn't carry responsibility.

"We have a lot of guys here who work hard. We've got a lot of leaders. We have a lot of guys trying to win games. We have a lot of guys busting their ass to do the right thing."

Ortiz, 36, wanted a two-year deal with the Red Sox this past offseason. He then agreed to arbitration, and ended up reaching an agreement on a one-year deal worth $14.58 million. He stood up for his teammates on Saturday. He stood up for the Red Sox. There's no replacing his leadership.

Joe McDonald covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.