To gregarious Papi, All-Star Game never gets old

To gregarious Papi, All-Star Game never gets old

To gregarious Papi, All-Star Game never gets old
KANSAS CITY -- As one of the elder statesmen of this year's All-Star festivities, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz would have been perfectly happy to take one at-bat in Tuesday's Midsummer Classic and hand off the designated hitter position to hometown favorite Billy Butler for the rest of the night.

However, American League manager Ron Washington had other ideas, and Ortiz was still around by the fifth inning, when he dug in for his second at-bat, this time facing nasty Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.

Ortiz took advantage of his longer-than-expected stay, lacing a single to left.

It wasn't nearly enough for the AL in an 8-0 loss to the National League.

"Washington wanted me to get another at-bat and I just went and did it," Ortiz said. "Actually he wanted me to get three at-bats. I was like, 'Let me get two and have my boy coming in and perform for his hometown.' I guess he had a plan, a plan for when he wanted everybody to be in the game, and we all respect that."

In Ortiz's first at-bat, he lofted a flyout to deep left that was caught just in front of the wall. In All-Star competition, Ortiz is 5-for-14.

Even after going through the experience eight times, Ortiz still enjoys being around the best of the best.

"It's always a blessing to be part of the All-Star Game," Ortiz said. "You've got the fans voting for you. Having to come out here is something that will never get old, you know what I'm saying? It's something I look forward to."

As one of the game's more gregarious players, Ortiz enjoys the social aspect of the All-Star Game.

"When I got to third base, I was talking to David Wright," Ortiz said. "I asked him, 'How many years you got left on your contract?' He said he has an option. I was like, 'Good luck to you.' Hitting .351? Wow. Pretty cool, isn't it.?"

And even if the Red Sox and Yankees are the most heated of rivals, barriers are broken during the All-Star festivities.

"One of the things that you like and enjoy about the All-Star game is that you get the opportunity to get to know some guys that you don't know," said Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter. "You admire people from afar, but when you're actually in the same clubhouse you get a chance to get to know them and their personalities. I've enjoyed getting to know David throughout the years here."

Adam Jones, the Orioles' blossoming outfielder, said that Ortiz was the player he most enjoyed spending time with in Kansas City.

"Papi, he's awesome," Jones said. "He's a big 8-year-old out there."

In fact, Ortiz is now 36, but still producing at an elite level and relishing the big stage.

"This was another great experience," Ortiz said. "All you want to do is make sure the fans enjoy it and have a good time and us to put on a good show for them."

In 2004 and '07, Ortiz was part of winning efforts in the All-Star Game that helped his Red Sox get home-field advantage in the World Series.

But the tables have turned, as the NL has now won three in a row.

"We wanted to try to win the game," Ortiz said. "They're trying to win the game, too. Like I said, they came out of the gate hot, swinging the bats against one of the best pitchers in the game."

Ian Browne is a reporter for Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.