Steve Serby takes time for a Q&A with David Oritz, former Red Sox great and FOX Sports baseball studio analyst:
Q: Why did you and Alex Rodriguez, over the years, become friends and have a bond?
A: I don’t like to see people struggle. I don’t care who you’re playing for, or what you do, I’m not used to seeing people struggle. I remember A-Rod when I was going through some tough times with Minnesota, A-Rod wanted to bring me to Texas. Things didn’t work out, Boston grabbed me. But then, A-Rod goes from Texas to New York, and it seemed sometimes like the pressure hit him while he played for New York. And I was good at dealing with pressure, so we ended up so much me trying to help him dealing with pressure. I remember one time we’re playing this game in New York, and I was in the on-deck and he’s at third base, and I could see on his face that the pressure was taking over, you know? I was like, “Dude, breathe, breathe! You’re not breathing right, breathe!” That was me, that was me being me.
Q: You could have handled New York easily, right?
A: In Boston, if you give the fans what they’re looking for, if they know that you try hard to get things done, they love you forever. The problem in Boston is when you’re not giving the max effort. They bury you. I remember Mr. Steinbrenner. … I have a lot of friends that play for New York that they used to tell me this guy used to come in the clubhouse, when he know that you were busting your ass out there, he would come and hug you and let you know that he got your back and this and that. Same as well when he know that the guy wasn’t getting prepared and giving the max effort. He would let them know too.
Q: What do the Yankees need to be champions? What kind of players do they need?
A: They don’t need more players. They need new chemistry. They got the talent. But the chemistry comes from the talent. If you have no chemistry you can have the best talent and you’re not going to win.
Q: Do you think Francisco Lindor will bounce back?
A: Oh yeah, oh yeah, definitely. He’s very talented. This kid, he’s got a lot going on. He’s one of the best players in the game. The Mets, the Mets fans, chill out, let him regroup, do his thing, and let him be who he is.
Q: What do you remember about the Aaron Boone playoff home run?
A: Oh, gosh. That cost me a World Series (laugh). But it is what it is, man. It is what it is. You learn from your failure. And once that happened, the whole Red Sox organization know that we have to get stronger to compete against those guys the following year. We did, and you’re going to win whenever you are ready to win. When you are not, you’re not going to win.
Q: How come you didn’t try to help poor Don Zimmer when he was fighting with Pedro (Martinez)?
A: (Laugh) Hey, Zimmer, man, that was my man! That was my man! When that thing went down, he went by me in slow motion, but I never saw that he was approaching (chuckle) Pedro. If you look at the video, I was in front of Pedro holding ground, defending my man, but I saw Mr. Zimmer walk by me basically and I was like, “OK.” And then when I turn around, I was like, “Oh, s–t, what just happened here?” Everything cooled off, everything was good. Zimmer was someone that was beloved by everyone. At that age he got the guts to go out there and defend his player. To me, that was like one of the most unbelievable things that I have seen in my life. Him putting himself in a situation at that age just to let people know that he’s got his player’s back. I got mad respect for him.
Q: How many times have you watched the replay of your 2004 ALCS home run against the Yankees?
A: They show it to me everywhere, everywhere you go, people talk about it (laugh). The only fans worldwide that come to me and be like, “Hey, I’m a Yankee fan, but I respect you.” What the Yankee fan doesn’t know is that I have mad respect for that organization because they pulled the best out of me, man. I used to get prepared to compete against anybody, but it seems like those games between us and the Yankees, it was like extreme. I used to get so tired after we play a series against the Yankees. It was very intense. At the end, it used to pull the best out of us.
Q: What made Pedro special?
A: Every single pitch he had, it was good. So you don’t know what to expect from him.
Q: What made Manny Ramirez, Manny Ramirez?
A: Manny was the type of guy that he wants to fool you. He wants you to believe that he was lazy, he wants you to believe that he doesn’t do anything to be as good as he was. But behind the scenes the guy was totally opposite. He don’t like no one to videotape him while he was working (laugh).
Q: Kevin Millar?
A: He’s the guy that know how to bring people together.
Q: You can face one pitcher in MLB history. Who would it be?
A: To be honest with you, I got to the point at some point when I was in my prime that I was down with facing whoever no matter what kind of stuff he had. When I was locked in, I could give you a hard time. … I was a really good fastball hitter, but I would say Nolan Ryan.
Q: Was it fun for you intimidating pitchers?
A: You know what though? I guess I wouldn’t say fun, but I figured that your body language had a lot to do with the result that you are looking for. And I’m pretty sure a lot of people can see that. A lot of people notice when your body language is either up or down. So I wanted to make sure that my body language was there with me all the time.
Q: What made you so clutch?
A: That I don’t give a damn (laugh). The one thing about any other sport is the pressure that you put on yourself. When you put pressure on yourself, your body, your brain, your muscles, they don’t function the same way when you are relaxed. So I figured that out and I tried to go out there as loose as I can so I can complete my mission. And the way that I used to do it was trying not to put pressure on myself.
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