Ortiz: 'This division is getting stronger'

February, 17, 2011
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- What does David Ortiz think of Johnny Damon being reunited with Manny Ramirez, and in the AL East to boot?

“This division, it’s kind of interesting to see how things are going,’’ Ortiz said Thursday. “I was with Johnny in the Dominican, we spent a week together. He’s very excited to go. Tampa is his hometown [well, close enough -- Orlando], and we were talking about Manny.

“Vladi [Guerrero] going to Baltimore -- this division is getting stronger. The addition of [Ramirez and Damon] is going to make Tampa stronger. Baltimore got some thunder there, too. If those guys come out hacking like they normally do, I think they can do some damage, make some people panic. We need to focus, stay on top of our game and not take anything for granted, or later on it’s going to cost you.

“The Yankees? I haven’t put too much attention on what they’ve done lately. From what I heard, they’re looking for pitching this offseason. They’ve always found a way to get good players.’’

Ortiz also offered a vote of confidence to Jonathan Papelbon.

“I’m just going leave the man alone,’’ Ortiz said when asked if he might joke with Papelbon about the Red Sox taking a run at Yankees closer Mariano Rivera. “I think Paps is going to have a great season. I talked to him for just a minute, and I could see that in his eyes. Pap knows how to compete. We all go through tough times, when things don’t go the way we want. I believe in Paps. He knows he has a challenge, something to prove now, and I think he’s up to that.’’

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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