FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Prior to the first full-squad workout, the Red Sox always have a lengthy clubhouse meeting in which representatives from ownership and the front office address the group, as well as the manager. This time around, David Ortiz added another element by making a speech.
"I'm one of the older guys here that has been here for the last few years," Ortiz said. "We had those meetings and we never step up and say things. We just do nothing but listen, but today I think was a good time for us as players to make sure our owners don't feel guilty about the job that they do.
"I think they [did] a [heck] of a job last year putting a good team together. After that, it's not on them. It's on us. I know everybody wants to call them out -- Mr. [John] Henry, Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner. At the end of the day, there's nothing else they can do but do what they did last year and what they did this year: Pick up good players, bring them into the organization. After that, it's on us."
Entering his 10th season with the Red Sox, Ortiz appears to be taking on even more of a leadership role than in the past, now that Tim Wakefield has retired and long-time captain Jason Varitek is a free agent.
"It's like I told my teammates: Wearing the Red Sox on your chest, on your jersey, you've got to be proud of that," Ortiz said. "You've got to be absolutely proud of it, because of the history of this organization. Hopefully everybody takes that personal. Be responsible and know that we're employees here. We have rules to follow. We have a boss [and] we need to do what he wants us to do."
Ortiz expressed full support for manager Bobby Valentine's rule that there be no alcohol in the clubhouse in 2012.
"We're not here to drink. We're here to play baseball. You know what I'm saying? This ain't no bar," Ortiz said. "This is an organization, a place that needs a lot of athleticism. Alcohol has nothing to do with that. People have alcohol in their houses. If you want to drink it, drink at home."
Ortiz said it was his idea to address the room.
"I just did it myself," Papi said. "I think it was time for us to get that monkey off the shoulder of our owners. I saw a lot of heat coming last year to our owners. They can do nothing but put us together. After that, it's on us."
"That was just one of those things in there that went really well," Valentine said of Ortiz's speech.