Ortiz: 'This team should win'

Updated: December 14, 2003, 3:14 PM ET
Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- David Ortiz has a warning for the New York Yankees and the rest of the American League: Beware the Boston Red Sox.

Boston's designated hitter said new starter Curt Schilling and closer Keith Foulke should make the Red Sox favorites for the AL crown. Schilling joins Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield to form one of the major's top rotations.

"This team should win," Ortiz said Sunday in San Juan, where he was playing in an all-star game between the Dominican and Puerto Rican winter leagues. "Pedro, Curt, Lowe and Wakefield. That's scary."

The Dominican slugger thinks management should keep the rest of the team intact and not trade shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and outfielder Manny Ramirez or acquire AL MVP Alex Rodriguez of the Texas Rangers.

Ortiz said that the major leagues' leading offensive team would lose about 70 home runs, 200 RBI and 400 hits if they trade Ramirez and Garciaparra.

"If Manny and Garciaparra are not traded, like it's been rumored, I think next year things are going to get ugly" for other teams, Ortiz said.

With the signing of Foulke the Red Sox addressed their main weakness last season, relief pitching, Ortiz said.

"We were missing a closer," he said. "Now we have one of the best."

Ortiz was honored Saturday at baseball's winter meetings as the top designated hitter in the majors last season. He hit .310 with 27 homers and 73 RBI as a DH and .288 with 31 homers and 101 RBI overall. He was fifth in the AL MVP voting.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein commended Ortiz on his award. Epstein also said he began talks on Saturday with Ortiz's agent on a multiyear contract.

"That's what I'm looking for,'' Ortiz said. "Then I can just play ball and be relaxed.''

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press