BOSTON -- The Red Sox aren't just trying to extend their season in Game 3 of the American League Division Series (Monday, 6 p.m. ET, TBS). They will also be galvanized in an effort to extend the career of one of the best players in franchise history.Considering that David Ortiz's
BOSTON -- The Red Sox aren't just trying to extend their season in Game 3 of the American League Division Series (Monday, 6 p.m. ET, TBS). They will also be galvanized in an effort to extend the career of one of the best players in franchise history.
Considering that David Ortiz's legend has been built around big moments in October, a sweep in the first round of the postseason would be about the most unfitting sendoff imaginable.
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"We obviously want to win a ring to send him off," said Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts. "That's just another motive for us to get back and get going."
Unlike in the immediate aftermath of the 6-0 loss in Game 2, when Ortiz was clearly in an ornery mood, Big Papi had regained his outsized personality by Saturday's workout.
During batting practice, he rocketed home runs to right field with swings that looked effortless. As the music played through the ballpark's sound system, Ortiz danced just outside the cage and lipped words to the songs, smiling the whole way.
If Ortiz was feeling the weight of Game 3 possibly being his final one as an active player at Fenway Park, he didn't let it show.
The slugger did not talk to reporters following the workout, noting pleasantly that he had to go. The Red Sox aren't ready for Ortiz to go home.
Of course, the finality of Ortiz's career has loomed since the start of Spring Training.
"You know, that's going to exist regardless of when the final game is played," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We knew that the day that David announced this was going to be his final season. I don't think that has been a distraction for us at any point in the season, and certainly it isn't [Sunday]. It's pretty clear-cut what we need to do."
In situations like this in the past -- be it in 2003, '04, '07 and '13 -- when the Red Sox were in danger of postseason elimination, Ortiz would typically rectify the situation with a big hit or three.
It didn't happen in the first two games in Cleveland, when the slugger went 1-for-8. But not many people would be surprised if he got his groove back on Monday and beyond.
"Yeah, I mean, everybody had it mapped out in their head in Spring Training what we wanted to do, knowing that David was not going to be here next year," said Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz, who is starting Game 3. "We reached the first goal and that was to get in the playoffs and win the division.
"Second part of it has not worked out the first two games, but I don't think there's anybody on this team that's more confident than David Ortiz about us moving forward, and whenever he comes up to bat, he would love to put himself in the most pressure-packed position and get a knock. That's just what he's done over his career."
Indians manager Terry Francona knows that the two World Series rings he has in his possession would not have been possible without the left-handed hitter who wears No. 34 for the Red Sox.
"Well, I admit I like it better when he makes outs," said Francona. "He's obviously a very special person in my life. I mean, you can't spend eight years with somebody and go through so much and not feel that way. I understand the talk about sendoff and things like that. Right now, believe me when I tell you what I care about is getting him out, because he's so dangerous."
Even the danger that Ortiz's bat still possesses has an expiration date. The Red Sox and Ortiz just hope it isn't for a few more weeks.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.