David Ortiz still plans to retire but regrets season of celebration

ByMarly Rivera ESPN logo
Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortizsays he regrets announcing that this will be his final season in the majors.

The Dominican star feels overwhelmed by all the attention he has received, which he said has affected his extended preparation time before each game.

"I'm too busy. I have too many things to do. I barely have time to do anything," Ortiz told ESPN Deportes after the Red Sox's win over the Seattle Mariners on Sunday. "It's very difficult for me. If I had even imagined that it would be so difficult, I wouldn't have announced anything. There are too many people I have to pay attention to, and on top of that I have to prepare for a game."

"Big Papi" arrives at the stadium before any other player to start the long process of preparing for a game, particularly when it comes to his feet. He said he feels pain in his feet every day, and they are the main reason he guarantees he will never change his mind and come back for another season.

"Everything hurts," he said. "It even hurts to think. Last time I reached second after a double, I almost called for a timeout so they would get me out of the game. I can barely run because my feet hurt so much. I am in severe pain.

"One often tries to live in the moment, and even when your body is saying no, you say yes, even when your body says not to. Only mental strength convinces you that you can continue. Mental strength tells you that you can keep at it. But the body is a machine; it will give out and will send you a bill."

Ortiz is having a historic season with the Red Sox after turning 40 in November and revealing this will be his final year after two decades in the majors. He leads MLB with 48 extra-base hits, the most for any major leaguer through 68 team games since Barry Bonds had 48 in 2001. Ortiz is also the MLB leader in doubles (29), slugging percentage (.699) and OPS (1.118).

His exceptional season has even earned him praise from Bonds. Now the hitting coach of the Miami Marlins, Bonds said in an interview with the Boston Herald that he was not surprised by Ortiz's performance, even at 40. Ortiz said Bonds' words were the ultimate compliment.

"Barry Bonds is the best hitter in baseball history. If there is someone who actually knows about batting and how good a hitter is, he does," Ortiz said. "For me, there's no doubt he's the best hitter in the history of baseball, and him saying that about me is more than an honor. He knows what it takes to dominate in this league."

Despite his performance, Ortiz said leaving baseball behind is the only decision for him, which was reiterated after a recent encounter with Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.

"It was so shocking ... for me when I was in San Francisco to see Willie McCovey in a wheelchair," said Ortiz. "I understand that he's older and in his 70s, but he has already spent many years in a wheelchair. That shocked me.

"Since 2012 I've been struggling with my feet. I arrive every day at noon for a 7 p.m. game. If it was just about hitting ... I can still hit. My mental focus is there, my hand-eye coordination, I work hard to maintain those. But after you hit comes the rest. And therein lies the problem. That's the only reason.

Ortiz said he wishes he could play a couple of years more in the majors.

"This is what I like to do, and you see how people treat me," he said. "But unfortunately, when your body tells you it's enough, it's enough. You have no idea the magic I have to do to play ball every day. Well, actually it's not magic, it's work. Magicians do a trick and only fool you for a little while until you figure it out. It's work, working hard in the cage every day. Hard work is the only thing that gives you consistency in this game. Nothing else."

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