Minnesota Twins Spring Training Countdown: 27, David Ortiz


The Minnesota Twins are just 27 days away from spring training. As we celebrate the end of the blustery temps and the return of the game we love, let’s look at team history surrounding that number.

The Minnesota Twins are preparing for a 2018 season with expectations after making the playoffs in 2017 as a Wild Card. We will have bring out numbers from team history that represent the number of days until spring training from now until pitchers and catchers report on February 13th.

As any team does, the Minnesota Twins have had some players who have gone on elsewhere and found themselves having tremendous careers in another locale. There’s not a player that seems to stick in the craw of Twins fans more in recent memory than former designated hitter David Ortiz, who wore jersey #27.

Minnesota Twins career

Ortiz was toiling in the Seattle Mariners system in 1996 when the Twins acquired him as the player to be named in a deal that sent Dave Hollins to the Mariners for their 1996 playoff run.

Ortiz made it all the way to the major leagues in 1997, and he bounced back and forth between the Twins and AAA Salt Lake the next two seasons before coming up for good in 2000 with the Twins.

Minnesota manager Tom Kelly utilized Ortiz in a platoon primarily, and, being left-handed, Ortiz got the lion’s share of the at-bats at the DH position in that platoon. While he didn’t hit a ton of home runs, Ortiz showed excellent doubles power and good bat control, keeping his strikeout rate reasonable.

In 2002, he had his first season with Ron Gardenhire, having his best year for the Twins, which was both a blessing and a curse, as he hit .272/.339/.500 with 32 doubles and 20 home runs over just 466 plate appearances. It was his worst walk rate of his career thus far at 9.2%, but he still was under 20% with his strikeout rate, which was fairly impressive.

The 20 home runs were what worried the Twins going into the 2002 offseason, where Ortiz would have been going into arbitration. That home run number certainly indicated that the Twins would be facing a couple million dollars to retain Ortiz’s services in 2002.

The Twins believed they had an equivalent hitter in Matt LeCroy to handle DH duties who would not cost as much, and they chose to non-tender Ortiz, making him a free agent in mid-December of 2001.

Ortiz finished his Twins career with a line of .266/.348/.461 with 108 doubles and 58 home runs over 455 games.

Red Sox career

Many mistakenly believe that Ortiz was highly sought-after and the Red Sox won a bidding war for Ortiz’s services and he was an immediate starter. None of these are true.

The Red Sox signed Ortiz on January 22nd, over a month after he earned his release via non-tender from the Twins. The Red Sox signed him for just $1.25 million, roughly half of what he was projected to receive in arbitration that year, and they signed him to be the backup DH behind Jeremy Giambi (Jason’s less talented brother!).

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As May came to a close, it was clear that Ortiz was the better bat over Giambi, as Giambi was hitting .191 while Ortiz was hitting .272 and working with the Red Sox hitting coach Ron Jackson, who helped Ortiz completely re-tool his swing.

From June of 2003, Ortiz hit .293/.375/.635 with 29 home runs over 97 games to close out the season, beginning a tear that would continue for his career.

Ortiz would go on to 10 All-Star game selections, leading the major leagues in home runs in 2006. He won 7 Silver Sluggers and 8 DH of the Year (now known as the Edgar Martinez) Awards. He was also known for his off-field charitable work, receiving note as the 2011 Roberto Clemente Award winner.

Big Papi retired with a .286/.380/.552 career line over 20 years with 541 career home runs. He was still hitting well in his final season, leading the major leagues in slugging percentage and OPS in that final year at age 40.

Next: Twins 5 best OFs

For 27 days to spring training, we’ll remember the guy who has fired off more online debates than any guy not named Joe Mauer in the last 10 years in Twins online territory. The game misses Ortiz’s big smile and radiant personality, but the Minnesota Twins pitchers certainly do not miss facing his powerful bat!

Come soon, spring!!