Ortiz hits home run in his final spring training at-bat
FORT MYERS, FLA. — In his final spring training at-bat, David Ortiz hit his first home run of the spring in the Boston Red Sox's 7-4 loss to the Minnesota Twins on Thursday.
Ortiz announced on his 40th birthday in November that this will be his final season. He played in 342 Grapefruit League games in Fort Myers over 20 seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox.
With two outs in the fifth, Ortiz launched a ball over the right field wall.
"Great," Ortiz said of his home run. "These are Fort Myers fans that support the Twins, support the Red Sox and I've been here for a while. I bet you a lot of these people watched me playing when I played for the Miracles down here. I'm pretty sure they're super happy with how my career has gone. You see a kid start and 20 years later, you see his career and being the way it has been, and then you get to see his last spring training game, and it's something that makes it special."
Ortiz struck out to end the first inning and grounded out to end the third before his home run.
"I think it matters a lot to David," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of the solo shot, "because he didn't like the way the previous at-bat went, asked for another. And to see him have that kind of intensity tuned up a little bit against one of their starters, good to see him square the ball up."
Two batters earlier, Twins center fielder Byron Buxton made a terrific playing, sprinting back and diving to catch Josh Rutledge's drive to the warning track for an out.
"The ball was really carrying today, center and left particularly, and it just probably got out there a little farther than he," Minnesota manager Paul Molitor said. "I thought he had a pretty good gauge on it, but it just kind of fooled him a little bit, but he had the athleticism to make the adjustment at the last second to make the catch. Just one of those things that shows what his capabilities are out there. It's pretty special. And he had good at-bats today, too."
The Red Sox opened the scoring in the third when Jackie Bradley Jr. led off with a walk and scored when Xander Bogaerts grounded into a double play.
Boston's Hanley Ramirez hit his second home run of the spring.
Minnesota's Eddie Rosario hit his third homer, and Danny Santana had three hits and two RBIs.
Red Sox: Clay Buchholz went four innings, giving up one run on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts. He also gave up a solo home run to Eddie Rosario in the fourth.
"Felt good. It's a good way to wind down," Buchholz said. "I took a step forward every time through this spring. The two-seamer was a lot better today. That's what I worked on between this start and my last start. I got some ground balls because of it. Everything else felt pretty good."
Twins: Kyle Gibson went five innings, giving up four runs on seven hits and one walk. He had three strikeouts.
"Not bad," Gibson said of his outing. "They're obviously pretty aggressive, so I was just trying to locate the heater as good as I could. Didn't really have as good of command as I had in the past but offspeed was pretty good, curveball was just all right. But for the most part pretty happy."
Red Sox: RHP Carson Smith (flexor muscle strain) and LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (subluxation of his right knee) will start the season on the disabled list, as will RHP Brandon Workman and C Christian Vazquez, who are returning from Tommy John surgery.
Before the game, Farrell announced that Pablo Sandoval had lost his starting third base job to Travis Shaw. Sandoval is entering the second year of a five-year, $95 million contract. Shaw, 25, made his major league debut last season.
Red Sox: Boston travels to Montreal for two exhibition games against the Blue Jays. Knuckleballer Steven Wright will start Friday night. Left-hander J.A. Happ gets the start for Toronto.
Twins: Minnesota travels to Washington for two exhibition games against the Nationals. Right-hander Phil Hughes will start Friday night. Right-hander Tanner Roark gets the start for the Nationals.
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