SMOKING: David Ortiz looks to extend his 25-game hit streak tonight at Fenway Park.

Jan-Christian Sorensen
Contributing Writer

Satchel Paige famously said: “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

For David Ortiz, that something is history.

Tonight, when the Sox return from being swept out of the Lone Star State and host the Minnesota Twins in the opener of a three-game set at Fenway, David Ortiz will try to extend his impressive, 25-game hit streak.

The streak is significant for several reasons:

The length and breadth: The 25-game stretch is a personal best for Big Papi, and Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe notes that it’s the second longest hit streak of at least 20 games (in calendar terms) since 1900. Ortiz's current streak spans 307 days. The longest streak — 322 days — was etched by Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra, who put together a 20-game string to end the 2000 season but then underwent wrist surgery and was on the shelf until July 28, 2001. Upon his return, Garciaparra extended the streak by one day before going 0-for-4 in his next game.

Ortiz began his streak July 2, 2012 in a 6-1 loss at Oakland. He hit safely in the next 11 games before going on the disabled list with an Achilles injury July 16. Ortiz returned to the lineup for one game on Aug. 24 and went 2-for-4 with a single, double and two RBI in a 4-3 win over Kansas City before re-aggravating the injury and ending his season.

With that, he limped down the dugout steps, leaving Red Sox Nation to ponder a future without the Big Man in the lineup. The 37-year-old was set to dip his toe into the free agent market, and Sox fans were acutely aware they may have seen the last of the man who had come to define the very heart and soul of the organization since he arrived in 2003. However, the Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when the club announced it had re-signed Ortiz to a two-year contract in early November.

The durability: Despite missing the last two months of the 2012 campaign and all of spring training this year with the Achilles injury, Ortiz returned as sturdy and persistent as the day he left on April 20, going 2-for-4 with an RBI in a win over the Royals to push the streak to 13 games.

The record: On April 28, when he went 2-for-4 against Houston, Ortiz became only the fourth designated hitter to notch a 20-game hit streak and the first since Paul Molitor accomplished the feat with the Milwaukee Brewers in 1987. Ortiz still has some climbing to do to catch Molitor, who hit safely in 39 straight games that season.

The power: Ortiz comes into tonight’s game with a .440/.473/.840 line. Over the course of the 25-game streak, he’s hit six homers and driven in 23 runs while hitting at a torrid .442/.524/.733 clip. in the first inning of Sunday's game in Texas, Ortiz took an 89-mph Yu Darvish fastball and drove it into the right field stands for his 25th straight game with a hit.

Ortiz is already entrenched in Fenway and Red Sox lore. He’s steeped in late-inning heroics. He’s a gregarious, outspoken and respected ringleader on the field, in the clubhouse and around the league.

Now, he has a chance to add to his already impressive and voluminous Red Sox resume.

Twitter: jan_doh

Jan-Christian Sorensen 5/06/2013 06:05:00 PM Edit
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