Papi: Rivalry still exists, but it's more toned down

Papi: Rivalry still exists, but it's more toned down

NEW YORK -- David Ortiz said Friday that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry hasn't gone away. It just looks a little different.

"We want to beat up each other, in a professional way," Ortiz said, as he got ready to face the Yankees for a 13th season as the Red Sox's designated hitter.

When Ortiz first came to the Red Sox, the two teams were both among the best in the game, and two classic postseason series built emotions to the highest of levels. Many of the faces have changed since then, and the two teams don't dominate the American League East the way they once did.

But Ortiz said the lack of altercations has more to do with players' concern about possible suspensions.

"I think the game in general has changed," Ortiz said. "We play with so many rules now. They're paying more money to players, and they want players on the field. The rules are very strict. Rules, man, rules. That's what I think."

Not that he's complaining.

"I don't miss getting hit [by pitches]," Ortiz said. "People don't want to see WWF. You bring your kid to the field to watch baseball. You want to see 50 guys playing baseball, rather than have your kid ask, 'Why are those guys fighting?'

"The rivalry continues. It's just not going to be at the level where it used to be, where you see all those fights. You're just going to see more brawls in the stands than on the field."

Ortiz said this season's games against the Yankees will feel a little different after the retirement of Derek Jeter.

"It's our first game, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to notice," Ortiz said.

Ortiz will notice the Yankees, he'll feel the rivalry, but he just doesn't expect to fight.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.