NEW YORK -- With David Ortiz's slump still very much in progress as the Red Sox arrived at Yankee Stadium on Monday, Red Sox manager Terry Francona felt the time was right to give his slugger a pep talk.
"We kind of visited on that today a little bit," Francona said. "I've been standing there for five years, patting him on the fanny as he runs by driving in all those runs and winning games for us. Now, when he needs a little help, I don't want to be the one to abandon him. I'm not going to do that."
Ortiz came into the night hitting .208 with no homers and 12 RBIs. Ortiz appreciated the encouraging words from his manager, with whom he's always shared a strong relationship.
"It's what you want to hear." Ortiz said. "'Relax. Don't try to do too much. It doesn't matter -- we're going to go down together if we go down. I've been with you for years, and I've got to suck it up if something bad happens to you. Don't worry. Just go ahead and play the game and forget about it.'"
It seemed clear that Ortiz took the message to heart.
"This game is not always going to be roses and flowers," Ortiz said. "There's tough times you need to deal with and build up your confidence back. Terry's the one guy who has a lot to do with the [success in the] time that I've been playing here. He's been absolutely great to me. I don't see Terry as my coach anymore -- I see Terry as my dad. Every time he talks to me, I'm nothing but ears."
Ortiz has been in a good mood the past couple of days, seemingly confident that his bat is bound to erupt soon.
"I'm going to take this as something the baseball gods want to teach me," Ortiz said. "'It's not as easy as you make it look, big boy.' So I'm just going to stay positive, keep working and get some earmuffs. People are always going to make comments -- some people going to make good ones, most of the people are going to make bad ones -- but you can't pay attention to it. Just try to get it done."
As part of Francona's confidence in Ortiz, the manager has yet to take the slugger out of the No. 3 spot in the Red Sox's lineup, and he has yet to give Ortiz a game off this season.
Does Ortiz feel a day off would do him good?
"I don't know -- I'll let you know later, though," Ortiz said. "Meanwhile, I'm just going to keep fighting. That's me. That's how I've been doing it my whole life. This isn't the end of the world. Like Manny [Ramirez] said before, there's always good days and bad days. But you know what you've got to do when bad days show up? Smile at it. Show your teeth. Just laugh at it and keep fighting. Don't worry -- good things are going to happen."
Francona appreciates the way Ortiz has handled himself through the slump.
"He's had a tough month," Francona said. "He acknowledges that, and he's frustrated and he wants to do better. Sure, we need him. Now it's my time to be there for him and help him. That's what I'll try to do. I think by being impatient or giving up on somebody or running away from him, it's not the answer for what we need."