Big Papi returns to lineup
Slugger lets Francona know he wants back in via text message
CLEVELAND -- During the flight to Cleveland in the wee hours of Monday morning, Red Sox manager Terry Francona gave designated hitter David Ortiz an invitation to take another day off if he wanted or needed it. Ortiz didn't play Sunday against the Yankees, mainly so he could rest his mind, which has been stressed during this unusual hitting drought.
By Monday morning, Francona found out through the means of modern technology that his superstar had no interest in sitting out the opener of this two-game series against the Indians.
"He actually texted me, and this is no [joke], I thought I was texting my daughter," said Francona. "Because he's like, 'Hey dad' or 'Hey pop,' whatever it was."
By the last exchange of text messages, Francona was even more confused.
"The last one said, 'Put me in, ...'"
At the end of that message, Ortiz addressed -- in a good-natured way -- Francona with a naughty word, one that he had a hard time imagining would come off the text message fingers of his daughter Jamie.
Finally, Francona called the number and was relieved to find out the texter was Ortiz.
"I was actually kind of relieved," said Francona. "Whether David gets hits or not, at least I don't have a 14-year-old talking like that to her dad. The good news is my daughter seems to not be speaking like that and David wants to play, so we're OK. It's a win-win."
Ortiz, as has been well documented, entered Monday in one of the worst droughts of his career. His .070 average (3-for-43) was the lowest among all Major League qualifiers. The slugger had just one hit in his last 29 at-bats.
While Sunday was basically a day to rest his mind, Ortiz spent some of the pregame hours Monday working on his mechanics with hitting coach Dave Magadan.
Did the day off help Ortiz?
"Yeah, I guess," said Ortiz. "I was just able to get away from baseball for a second."
The break couldn't have hurt, since Ortiz singled in his first at-bat off Indians starter Jake Westbrook in the first inning.
Francona is confident that Ortiz is rejuvenated mentally, if not mechanically.
"[It was a] big mental day," Francona said. "That doesn't mean he's going to jump right in. But he was back to being David a little bit. That was good to see."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.