For the first time in more than two years, Ortiz and Rodriguez spoke to each other, Rodriguez confirmed, before the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 6-3 in a spring training game Tuesday night. The sluggers ran into each other in an indoor batting cage at JetBlue Park, embraced and had a brief conversation.
"I spoke to him today," Rodriguez told ESPN.com when asked whether he felt a need to reach out to Ortiz, who plans to retire after this season. "I'm happy for him. He's in a good place."
Close friends since their days in the Seattle Mariners organization in the mid-1990s, Ortiz was deeply offended when Rodriguez's lawyer appeared on ESPN Radio in January 2014 and, in a discussion about steroid use in baseball, said, "I'm not going to start naming all the other players, but some of them are God-like in Boston right now."
Although the lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, later insisted he wasn't referring to Ortiz, his remark furthered the perception in some circles that Ortiz was a cheater.
It's a sensitive subject for Ortiz, one of four players exposed in 2009 for failing the supposedly confidential drug testing survey six years earlier that preceded Major League Baseball's current testing program. As a result, Ortiz hadn't talked to Rodriguez since Tacopina made his comments, even after Ortiz hit his 500th home run in September.
In talking about Tacopina's remarks, Ortiz told ESPN Deportes' Marly Rivera: "If you're my lawyer and you represent me and say something in public, then it usually means that I stand by what you say. If you say something that I don't agree with, my duty is to call you and explain what is going on, and maybe to publicly say that you disagree with what the lawyer said, that's it. But that never happened.
"But this is in the past, and it does not matter, but at the time I thought it was [Rodriguez's] duty, due to our friendship and mutual respect, to say something."
In a Spanish-language interview Tuesday before his encounter with Rodriguez, Ortiz told Rivera that he was "at peace" with his relationship with Rodriguez and unconcerned with mending fences before he retires.
"I have always gotten along with everyone," Ortiz said. "I've never harmed anybody, not even those who have tried to do me harm. It's not my problem. I will always love and respect Alex, because that is who I am, that's in my nature. I'm a big bear. I give affection to everyone."
"I love Big Papi. I have a lot of respect for him. I think he's been an incredible ambassador for the game."Alex Rodriguez
Ortiz said he would shake Rodriguez's hand, but when asked whether he planned to approach him, Ortiz sounded as though he wanted Rodriguez to make the first move.
"I have always been the one to reach out first," Ortiz said. "I have always been the first one to extend my hand, every single time."
On Tuesday, it seems they both reached out.
"I love Big Papi," Rodriguez said. "I have a lot of respect for him. I think he's been an incredible ambassador for the game. I'm looking forward to him leaving the game at a height -- and for him to leave the game. He's crushed us over the years."
Ortiz said the only time he addresses the Rodriguez matter is when members of the media ask him.
"It is nothing that I have dwelled on," Ortiz told Rivera. "I have nothing against Alex, and I will always wish the best for him. And Alex knows that if there is a person out there who truly cares for him and wishes him many blessings, that's me."