Werner: Ortiz story crossed line

May, 11, 2013
5/11/13
12:02
AM ET
BOSTON -- Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said a Boston Globe column stating that David Ortiz was widely suspected of using steroids "crossed a line," leading him to write a response that was posted on the team's website and which he also submitted to the newspaper.

Werner's written response, unusual for the owner of a professional sports team, objected to a piece written by sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy published Wednesday in the Globe and posted on the newspaper's website.

"You fit all the models," Shaughnessy said he told Ortiz in the column. "You are from the Dominican Republic. You are an older player. Older players don't get better. You've had injuries consistent with steroid use. You showed up on the list from 2003. You fit all the formulas."

At the time the column was published, Ortiz was on a 27-game hitting streak extending back to last season, and was batting .426. Since its publication, Ortiz has gone hitless in his last 13 at-bats (0-for-16 overall), his average dropping to .338.

Ortiz went 0-for-5 in consecutive games for the first time since 2004, then went 0-for-3 Friday night. In the three games since the column ran, Ortiz has come to the plate with a total of 16 runners on base and failed to drive in any.

"It's probably my style sort of not to respond," Werner said Friday night, "but I felt like the piece that Dan wrote really crossed the line. I know David responded to it, but I also took the approach that somebody else should stick up for David."

Werner said he told Ortiz that he thought the column was "over the top and outrageous" and that Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry also spoke to Ortiz on the subject.

"I also put it in the context that it was over the line regarding Clay Buchholz [the Red Sox pitcher who last week in Toronto was accused of throwing a spitball by two Blue Jays broadcasters, including former pitcher Jack Morris]," Werner said. "Do we really want to assume any time that an athlete does something admirable that he's cheating? I hope not."

In his piece, Werner noted that Shaughnessy wrote that Ortiz was suspect because older players "do not get better." Werner wrote that "most disturbing to me" was Shaughnessy writing Ortiz was also suspect because he is from the Dominican Republic.

"I fully acknowledge the right the media has to ask difficult questions and to express controversial opinions," wrote Werner, who then asserted that Ortiz has been tested five times for performance-enhancing drugs, and also submitted to a blood exam that tests for human growth hormone.

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Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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