One last hurrah for Papi at Sox's spring home

One last hurrah for Papi at Sox's spring home

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- David Ortiz's day started with a street being named after him. It ended with the slugger being escorted out of JetBlue Park by Jim Rice and Luis Tiant in a custom-made golf cart.

Welcome to the David Ortiz retirement tour, which kicked off on Monday. The occasion this time: Ortiz's final Spring Training home game with the Red Sox.

"Very nice," said Ortiz. "I've been coming to Fort Myers for a long time. To get to the point where you can get to say goodbye as a player, it's really good. It's crazy. I wasn't expecting any of it but it happened. Whenever somebody comes to you with a gift, it's always welcomed, right? The Red Sox and the city of Fort Myers, I really thank them for being so nice."


Red Sox honor Ortiz pregame

As part of the pregame ceremony, the Red Sox announced that a street within the JetBlue Park complex that used to be known as Canvas Alley will now be called "David Ortiz Way".

Lee County officials presented Ortiz with the new street sign prior to Boston's 5-3 loss to the Orioles, which saw Ortiz go 0-for-3.

Has Ortiz asked anyone for advice on what to do with all the gifts he is sure to receive?

"Mariano [Rivera] told me to be able to have a warehouse so you can put all of them over there," Ortiz said.

The real fun came after Ortiz's final at-bat. With the top of the seventh inning about to start, Tiant and Rice rode in on the souped-up golf cart and drove off with the legend who will join them as beloved Red Sox alumni at the end of 2016.

The golf cart had cushioned seats, a stereo and decals of Ortiz's No. 34 and the three championship banners he helped raise in his time with the Red Sox. A Dominican flag decorated the roof.

"Actually, that one is kind of fast, so I'm going to send it to the Dominican so I'm able to drive it," said Ortiz.

Ortiz receives ovation

Ortiz is a fixture in Fort Myers. The only Major League team he played with before the Red Sox? The Twins, who also train in Fort Myers. This is Ortiz's 20th Spring Training in Lee County.

Ortiz was also gifted with stadium seats from Hammond Stadium, City of Palms Park and JetBlue Park -- the three home Spring Training ballparks he has played at in his career.

"I really like Fort Myers. Fort Myers is a very peaceful place, and I pretty much enjoyed the afternoons when I'd get to be where I'm staying at and relax," said Ortiz. "There are a lot of nice people around. I've been coming to Fort Myers since '97. I kind of was lucky enough to go from one baseball club to another in the same [Spring Training] city so I didn't have to do any changes. It was good to stick around the same spot."

Prior to the game, there was a big banner above the replica Green Monster that said, "Thank you, David". On the grass beyond both baselines, Ortiz's No. 34 was painted in red.

The ceremony is likely the first of many Ortiz will receive in his farewell season. It should help Ortiz that he's never minded being in the spotlight.

"I think it's fun," said Ortiz. "There's nothing crazy about it. It was a 10-minute ceremony, and if that's what I'm going to go through everywhere I go, I've got no problem with it. I went through all my preparation today and stuff and nothing got in the way."

The Red Sox plan on enjoying Ortiz's swan song.

"I think anytime you acknowledge and celebrate a guy's career, certainly in his case it's worthy," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "A touch of class by the organization and certainly the people here in Fort Myers. When you think about it, it's 20-plus years down here. Kind of an uncommon career path that Spring Training is all in one place. We'll likely see more of these along the way."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.