10/08/2002 10:22 pm ET
Ortiz ready, willing, happy
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Ramon Ortiz has a message for anyone under the impression he was shaken up by the shelling the Yankees handed him in Game 3 of the American League Division Series last week:
The Dominican native uttered what may be his favorite English phrase to finish off his Tuesday press conference in advance of his start in Wednesday's Game 2 of the AL Championship Series at Minnesota. And, pretty much as always, Ortiz indeed looked happy, none the worse for his rocky postseason debut.
Ortiz no doubt would have been happier had he performed better last Friday in the Angels' first home playoff game since 1986. He got knocked around for six earned runs on only three hits and four walks, but the Angels wound up coming back for a 9-6 victory.
"Sometimes, you have a day like that," Ortiz said. "I don't feel bad about that game. My team picked me up. They won the game. I'm very happy for that."
Anaheim pitching coach Bud Black said Tuesday he doesn't have any doubt Ortiz will snap back and have a better outing in Game 2 of the ALCS.
Naturally, Black is less inclined to focus on the Ortiz who was knocked around by the Yankees and more inclined to focus on the Ortiz who had a five-hit shutout on Aug. 31, which started with 5 1/3 perfect innings. Ortiz went on to go 4-0 with a 2.73 ERA in his five September starts, and he recorded four of the Angels' seven complete games on the season.
"When he's on, he can be as tough as anyone," Black said. "Every time out, he has a chance to throw a gem. He has, at times, very overpowering stuff. He had a rough game against the Yankees. Who doesn't?"
Although Ortiz is 29, this was only his second full season in the big leagues, so he's not quite the finished product yet. His stuff is about as nasty as anybody's on the Anaheim staff, with a four-pitch array that at times can be electrifying.
Harnessing that electricity has always been an issue with Ortiz. Example: Those four walks vs. three hits in his ALDS start, showing his control can sometimes get away from him. Example: Ortiz led all Major League pitchers with 40 home runs allowed, showing that electricity can sometimes put a charge into an opponent's bat.
But Ortiz set career highs in wins with a 15-9 mark, in innings pitched with 217 1/3 and in strikeouts with 162 in 2002. He's obviously on the right track.
Like Black, Angels manager Mike Scioscia looks for Ortiz to rebound from his ALDS start, perhaps even using it to his advantage.
"I think Ramon will learn from the experience of his last start," Scioscia said. "I think he was a little too pumped up. When he can get those emotions under control and execute pitches, he's one of the top pitchers in our league. He's going to have to find a way to do that."
Ortiz, meanwhile, doesn't really think he was too pumped up, and he doesn't plan on making some grand adjustment to his approach. He said he doesn't have a special approach lined up for the heavily left-handed Twins lineup, either.
Ortiz just chalks up last Friday's outing to a tough opponent and a rough day for him.
"The Yankees are a good team, a lot of good hitters," he said. "You have to pitch to that team. Some days you do good, some days it's not my day."
But you know what? Yep, you guessed it.
"I'm very happy," Ortiz said.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.