Focus drives Ortiz to succeed

Updated: July 7, 2006, 8:46 PM ET
By Enrique Rojas |

"The power of the mind" is probably what David Copperfield would say to explain how he makes objects vanish, but it is probably the last phrase you'd expect to hear from a slugger trying to explain how he makes balls disappear.

Well, David Ortiz, who is having another great season, even threatening to surpass his great numbers in 2005, believes his mental preparation has a big influence on his success.

David Ortiz
AP Photo/Steve NesiusDavid Ortiz, right, is greeted at home plate after hitting a grand slam in the ninth inning Thursday night.
"Baseball is more of a mental sport than a physical one," said Ortiz to "I attribute my success to how much I work on the mental aspect of the game."

After his two home runs and six RBI Thursday night, Ortiz leads the majors with 82 RBI and is tied with Jim Thome for the major league lead in home runs with 29 only two days before the All-Star break begins.

"Big Papi" is on track to reach 57 home runs and 160 RBI by the end of the season.

"Opponents have put on special defensive shifts against me and have taken away 40 hits and a lot of RBI," said Ortiz. "But I'm not planning to change my style. In fact, that's one of the great things about baseball: the war of strategies trying to confuse opponents."

"My goal is to hit home runs and drive in runs; that's why I don't worry about my average," said Ortiz, who is hitting .277.

Last season, when he hit .300 with 48 home runs and 148 RBI, Ortiz had 21 home runs and 75 RBI before the All-Star Game.

"I play better in the second half of the season, when my body is tired and I need more focus and concentration," said Ortiz.

An RBI specialist in the most crucial games for the Boston Red Sox, Ortiz was second in the 2005 MVP award voting to the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in one of the closest races in history.

"I'm trying to put up my numbers and keep my team on track to win the World Series again."
-- David Ortiz
Rodriguez, in his second season with the Yankees, was first on 16 ballots, second in 11 and third in one to earn 311 points in the voting. Ortiz, who played as a designated hitter in 149 of 159 games, was first in 11 ballots and second in 17 for 307 points.

Writers believed Rodriguez's defense gave him an edge over Ortiz's clutch hitting, even though the Boston slugger batted in 34 game-winning runs, eight of them after the seventh inning.

The voting was also influenced by the Yankees' victory over the Red Sox on the last day of the regular season to earn the AL East title.

"I'm not going to lie -- I wanted to win the award last year, and I would like to get it this year, but it's something I can't control," said Ortiz. "I'm trying to put up my numbers and keep my team on track to win the World Series again.

"I'm mentally prepared to receive any kind of news. Good or bad. That's the key to my success," Ortiz said with a big smile.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for and

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for and