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Saturday, June 23, 2018

Jon Lester to Colin Cowherd: You couldn’t be more wrong about David Ortiz

David-Ortiz-rips-Buster-OlneyBoston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester went on Colin Cowherd’s show on Friday to defend David Ortiz. Earlier this week, Cowherd spoke about Ortiz’s mind-boggling performance in the World Series and all but accused him of using performance-enhancing drugs. Lester seemed certain that is not the case.

“I think you couldn’t be more wrong about him,” Lester said. “I think the biggest thing with David is you really haven’t seen the power numbers spike up or anything like that. I think he’s just become more of a complete hitter. … It’s not like he’s going at there at 37 and all of a sudden he’s hitting 50 homers and driving in 140 (runs).

“He’s hitting his normal home run totals that he’s hit his entire career. His average has gone up, which I think is a result of him taking his walks and taking the base hits. I think Fenway Park is a good ballpark for him and fits him well and I think he’s done it the right way for a long time.”

Lester is right about that. Ortiz has hit somewhere in the vicinity of 25-30 home runs and 90-100 RBI for the past six seasons of his career — excluding stretches where he was injured. After hitting just .238 in 150 games in 2009, many assumed Big Papi was washed up. Instead, he enjoyed one of the best all-around statistical years of his career this season at age 37.

According to Ortiz, a friend helped him correct his swing by pointing out a significant flaw that was slowing his bat speed. While many would argue that it’s impossible to get better at the plate in your late 30s, others would point to the fact that Ortiz is simply hitting more singles, doubles and getting on base.

Lester admitted it would be “a big letdown” if he ever found out one of his teammates was using steroids or cheating in some other way. He also addressed the accusations that were hurled against him after Game 1, when photos of a mysterious substance on his glove went viral.

“The accusation didn’t bother me because I know what I do on a day-to-day basis,” Lester said. “I know that I treat the game with respect and I know how I go about my games that I pitch and all that. … I think when you accuse someone and they immediately jump down your throat back at you that’s when you have stuff to hide.”

Cowherd and others have every right to be skeptical. Ryan Braun, Alex Rodriguez and others have taught us that you never know when a professional athlete is telling the truth. However, the aforementioned players and others got caught. As far as we know, Ortiz has passed every drug test he has been given since his name appeared on a 2003 list of players who tested positive for banned substances.

For the sake of baseball, we hope Ortiz’s MVP performance in the 2013 World Series was legitimate. It was nothing shy of remarkable.

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