Somewhere in Tampa Bay right now, Victor Martinez is working on developing 25 signature handshakes with each of his new Red Sox teammates. He had them in Cleveland and odds are he's putting them together now that he's in Boston.
You can bet that whatever palm-slapping, gyrating bit he and David Ortiz conjure up, it will end with a grande-sized embrace coming Martinez's way. It's the least Ortiz could do.
After the news broke last week that Ortiz was on the list of 104 Major League Baseball names who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003, he's been about as quiet as his own bat was for the first two months of the season—and that's saying something.
He originally responded to the news with what seemed to be a forthright mini-press conference. He had just knocked a three-run home run to help his team take down the Athletics, and he decided he would make himself available to reporters, just as he had done his entire career.
He was shocked by the report, but would be gathering all the information he could, he said. In a few short days, he'd come forth again and face the music.
Instead, cue the crickets.
Ortiz has been mute on the subject for five days now. He's gotten away with his silence and he has one man to thank: Victor Martinez.
You see, the Boston media hasn't been hounding Ortiz about the scandal or demanding a statement from the New England sports folk hero. And you can't really blame them.
There's been a storm of activity going on around the Fenway-dwellers of late, with the Fenway security juicers and a couple of important American League East series. And at the center of it all is the positive and calming presence of Martinez.
With his arrival, as the only real impact addition to any of the contenders in the AL East, he has shifted nearly all of the attention away from Ortiz. The Sox may not have been able to get Doc Halladay at the trading deadline, but V-Mart seems to be just what the doctor ordered.
Not only is he the switch-hitting, defensively-flexible player the Red Sox needed for their suddenly anorexic offense, but he's also been a temporary distraction killer.
He's the perfect solution for a team with an aging catcher like Jason Varitek and a corner infielder coming apart at the seams like Mike Lowell.
Whether they know it or not, it's the beginning of the end for those two, and with Martinez's ability to both catch and play first (sliding Kevin Youkilis over to third), he is very likely the Sox' best solution for the next couple of years.
He's fitting in just fine. But even with six hits, five RBI, and two runs in his first two games for Boston, his biggest contribution might be the time he's bought for Ortiz to produce an explanation to give the public. And it better be a good one.
If Ortiz doesn't come out with some truths while the team is in Tampa, imagine what the reception will be like in the Bronx on Thursday? Not good times.
Understandably, Ortiz needed to confer with lawyers about the best course of action for him to take. But five days after finding out he was on the list? He must know something by now and he must come out with it.
"You guys know me. I don't hide," Ortiz told the media five days ago. Well, now it's time to stop hiding behind Victor Martinez and all the fanfare that has come with his arrival.
You got your few extra days to think and now it's time to speak up. Martinez could hit 1.000 over the next week and this thing isn't going to go away, Papi.
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