Up until this week, David Ortiz was off to a red-hot start as he was hitting well over .400 and averaging an RBI a game. The Boston Red Sox slugger has since fallen off this pace (.338 BA), but that hasn’t stopped one columnist from accusing him of steroids.
Dan Shaughnessy, who writes for the Boston Globe, actually approached Ortiz in the Red Sox clubhouse to level steroid accusations. The 6’4″, 230-pound DH wasn’t having it though as he said, “They test me all the time. They make you pee and they test your blood, too. This year I would say I’ve probably been tested five times, peeing. Blood, just once. That was in spring training. They don’t warn you. They just show up.’’
Ortiz continued by saying, “In 2009, I was coming back from a hand injury (left wrist). I injured my hand, badly. I tried to come back, but I wasn’t the same. It carried over until my hand started feeling better. I got bad habits from that.” He added, “Once I started feeling better, I went back to be who I was. It wasn’t any different. I went back to hitting homers like I was doing before that. It wasn’t like I started hitting homers after I figured it out in ’09.”
The reasons for Shaughnessy’s bold steroid witch hunt are many, but none are overwhelmingly telling. First off, he brings up a bad season from 2009, when Ortiz hit .238. But since that time, he has never batted below .270, with two full seasons where he hit .309 and .318.
Another point that the Boston Globe columnist brings up is the fact that Ortiz is 37. Now this might seem like a valid argument for pulling out the steroid torches and chasing after the 16-year MLB veteran. But then again, Ortiz explained that he had a wrist injury several years ago, which hampered his play in 2009. Furthermore, he hit well at age 34, 35 and 36, so is he really expected to experience that big of a decline by age 37?
By far the most far-out allegation that Shaughnessy leveled is the idea that Ortiz is juicing simply because he’s Dominican. The writer’s basis is that a number of other Dominicans have been busted for roids, so this must automatically mean that Big Papi is also juicing then, huh?
Not surprisingly, this set Ortiz off the most as he vented when talking to Grandes en los Deportes. “You mean that in Dominican Republic there are no players who try to do things right,” said Ortiz. “We are all in the same boat. And the people here who have been caught, does that put everyone here in the same boat?”
Perhaps Shaughnessy will be happy now because ever since he grilled Ortiz about steroids, the Red Sox star has hit 1-for-16 with four strikeouts. Does this mean he suddenly put his vials and syringes up for the season once confronted by Shaughnessy?
In reality, David Ortiz’s hitting streaks are just representative of baseball. Now if he were suddenly on pace to hit 70 home runs – when he hasn’t hit more than 35 in the past seven years – that would be a different story.
But a proven hitter who starts out with an above .400 batting average in his first 15 games…well, this by no means indicates a guy who’s in the midst of a steroid cycle. And it especially doesn’t give Shaughnessy the green light to accuse somebody of using steroids just because they’re Dominican and played badly four years ago.