EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

July 22, 2008

Ortiz easily outduels McCain in Portland

Bill Burt

PORTLAND, Maine — Poor John McCain. Tonight was supposed to be republican presidential hopeful's night in southern Maine. A chance to make a blue state — Maine has voted for a democrat for president in the last four elections — a red one.

But Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, among a handful of the most popular human beings who reside in New England, needed to get some at-bats about five miles to the north at Hadlock Field, home of the Red Sox Double-A affiliate Portland Sea Dogs.

And with Ortiz followed all of the local sportscasters, news anchors and anybody who is anybody in the Portland media contingent.

"Hey, you all are making me feel like the president," said Ortiz, after walking out of the Sea Dogs clubhouse amid a horde of cameras, notebooks, tape recorders and the 50 accompanying reporters.

We all know, though, that his job is a run producer for the Boston Red Sox is much more important to New Englanders, including the 7,000 or so Maine residents here at Hadlock Field, than what McCain is in the vicinity for.

Ortiz probably should be in Seattle with the parent club. They appear to be in one of their all too familiar funks, something an Ortiz eighth-inning homer could fix.

But he says, despite the three homers in three nights in Pawtucket over the weekend, he's not where he feels he needs to be.

"The homers (in Pawtucket) were great," said Ortiz before the game. "But things can change after three games. I want to take a few more pitches."

True to form, take them he did, at least in his first at-bat in the first inning.

Of the six pitches thrown his way, he swung only once at a foul ball that KO'd some guy's nachos (the fan got a standing "O" after retrieving the baseball) about 30 rows behind home plate. The youthful home plate umpire could have called Ortiz out at least two times, instead saving himself from a big-time booing.

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