Papi catching fire
After starting out slowly, Ortiz back to terrorizing pitchers
DETROIT -- After a slow start and missing time due to right knee trouble, David Ortiz appears back to being his old self at the plate.
The Red Sox's designated hitter returned to the lineup on Monday vs. the Tigers after missing Sunday's series finale against the Rays. He responded by going 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs. The next day, Big Papi went deep against the Tigers again, his second time hitting home runs in consecutive games this season.
Ortiz is hitting .226, but that has a lot to do with his 3-for-43 start. His home run in Tuesday's 5-0 win over the Tigers extended his hitting streak to six games, during which he has hit .423 with three home runs and six RBIs.
"He's getting it back," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I think he's taking more aggressive swings, swinging with more aggression to go with the effort."
Francona gave an example of a swing from Tuesday that tells him Ortiz is seeing the ball well.
Ironically, it wasn't the home run. It was the foul ball that occurred moments before Ortiz blasted a 3-2 pitch 414 feet into the right-field stands.
A few pitches before, Ortiz took an inside fastball from Detroit starter Nate Robertson and drilled a bullet foul down the right-field line. The blast, though irrelevant in the box score, showed Ortiz is back to staying balanced and covering pitches on either side of the plate.
"If you don't have balance, plate coverage, however you want to put it, you're going to make an out before you get a chance to hit a home run," Francona said.
Generally a dead-pull hitter requiring the opposition infield to shift, Ortiz has placed several recent hits the opposite way. But Francona said he doesn't believe it's on purpose.
"I think there's times David tries to hit it to left field. I think there's times he does it by accident," Francona said. "When David's feeling really good about himself, he's just letting it fly, and wherever it ends up going, that's where it goes."
Scott McNeish is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.