"Who?" the Boston slugger asked, innocently.
Roger Clemens. He signed with the Yankees yesterday.
"Oh, he did?" Ortiz said after Boston's 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins, his mischievous eyes hidden behind a pair of designer shades. "I hadn't heard."
Ortiz's ignorance may have been embellished, but while the rest of the baseball world marveled at the 44-year-old Rocket's return to New York, the Yankees' biggest rivals greeted the news with a shrug and a yawn.
"It would have been nice to have him, but we didn't need him. We DON'T need him," Red Sox ace Curt Schilling said. "It's May, a long way to go, but I like the way this team is comprised right now. This team has incredible makeup, it's got great chemistry and I feel like we were a legitimate World Series contender without him, so it doesn't change my mind."
Clemens agreed to a minor league contract yesterday and expects to be pitching for the Yankees within a month. With an injury-depleted pitching staff, the Bronx Bombers definitely need the seven-time Cy Young Award winner after starting the season a disappointing 14-15 and falling 51/2 games behind the first-place Red Sox in the AL East.
Clemens' agent, Randy Hendricks, was in Boston talking to the Red Sox on Thursday when the Yankees offered big bucks. By Friday evening, the New York hooked him with a one-year, $28 million contract.
"I'm sure it's a nice boost over there, given what they've got," Schilling said. "It's going to be a huge help to them."
But pitching has been the one constant for the Red Sox (20-10) this season. Schilling has been his usual stingy self and Josh Beckett is 6-0, with the two hard-throwing right-handers headlining a staff that includes Daisuke Matsuzaka and a rejuvenated Tim Wakefield.
"Boston, they can speak for themselves," Hendricks said. "They have a good rotation. They're in first. They're doing very, very well. They probably feel they have the luxury of waiting."
That seemed to be the sentiment in Minneapolis as the Red Sox prepared to hit the road after taking two of three from the Twins.
"It would've been nice," Beckett said. "Anytime you get one of the greatest pitchers who ever lived on your staff, it'd be a plus. But unless the Yankees decide to trade him to us, we're probably going to have to move on without him."
If the Red Sox felt jilted by Clemens' flirtation with them before ultimately choosing the Yankees, they certainly did a good job of hiding it.
"I just heard that he signed with the Yankees and I'm surprised," Matsuzaka said through a translator. "With his long career and such a fabulous track record, there would have been a lot of things that I probably could have learned from him had we had the chance to play together. But at the same time, I don't feel disappointed."
General manager Theo Epstein and co-owner Larry Lucchino declined comment, but the team issued this statement:
"We met with Randy Hendricks earlier this week and, at Randy's request, made an offer to Roger Clemens. We offered a substantial salary and suggested, for health purposes, that Clemens return on approximately the same timetable as last year. Today we learned from Randy that Clemens has signed elsewhere."
Whereas Clemens said he was wooed to the Big Apple by star shortstop Derek Jeter, it appears he did not receive any similar overtures from Boston.
"It seems like they need pitching, so it was a good choice," Ortiz deadpanned. "They need him more than we do."
Schilling said he never contacted Clemens about joining the Red Sox, and said he was perfectly comfortable with what they have.
"I could care less now," Schilling said. "What's done is done."
Count Schilling, and the rest of the indifferent players in the Boston clubhouse, as the minority.
In Boston, tennis star Pete Sampras shared the news with 3,560 fans who watched him win a seniors tournament at Boston University.
"I don't know if you guys heard, but I believe the New York Yankees just signed Roger Clemens," he said to a chorus of boos during the trophy ceremony. "I'm serious."