AFTER THE 2002 season, the Red Sox had a list of nine -- count 'em, nine -- candidates for time at first base and designated hitter. As former Red Sox beat writer Jeff Horrigan says, "The expectations were really, really low. That was clear just by the number of people they threw at the position." But Boston's new GM, Theo Epstein, and president/CEO Larry Lucchino -- with an assist from one of the greatest pitchers in team history -- saw a glimmer of something in a washout from the Twins named David Ortiz. This is the story of the months between November 2002 and May 2003, when a player nobody wanted, just one of nine, became a legend a city couldn't do without.
I was never really Theo's guy. There were other guys he was paying more money to. If I had been his first choice, I really think I would have been playing since day one. ... So yeah, I sat and I sat, and I kept my mouth shut because you gotta keep it professional, you know?Epstein:
David and I had a few quick conversations early in the year in which I encouraged him to be patient, told him that we believed in him, expressed some empathy for his situation and reassured him that things would work themselves out. He was frustrated early but handled himself really well, not wanting to make an issue in the clubhouse or drag his teammates down.Ortiz:
Finally, I just said f--- it. I went to Grady. I went to Theo. They were asking me why I was mad, and I said, "I'm not mad, but I'm better than every f---ing guy you're running out there ahead of me." So I called [my agent] Fern. I told him, "If you're not here tomorrow, you're fired." He said, "What's wrong?" I said, "I'm better. Play me or I want out of here. Play me and I'll show you what's up."