David Ortiz discusses Mookie trade, Bello’s potential, and more

David Ortiz discusses Mookie trade, Bello’s potential, and more originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

David Ortiz isn’t afraid to speak his mind when it comes to the state of the Boston Red Sox.

The Hall of Famer recently joined our John Tomase for an exclusive 1-on-1 to cover a variety of relevant Red Sox topics. From the infamous Mookie Betts trade to young right-hander Brayan Bello‘s lofty potential, Ortiz shared his candid thoughts.

Below are some of the highlights from Ortiz’s conversation with Tomase.

Ortiz was back at Fenway to team up with eternalHealth, a Massachusetts-based Medicare Advantage Plan, to honor community champions who are going above and beyond in terms of proactive health and wellness initiatives, preventive care, and community engagements for older adults.

Go to https://eternalhealth.com/communitychampion and nominate your Community Champion.

Why star players are so important in Boston

Tomase asked Ortiz why superstar players are so important to Boston and why fans connected with those types of players.

“During the decade that I played, we got people who were used to winning,” Ortiz answered. “It’s hard to walk away from that. It’s hard to walk away from having fun. That’s how you build your fanbase. That’s how you build what we had going on, sold out here at this stadium every day while I played. You don’t want to walk away from that.

“The fans here went through a time that it was tough for 86 years. Then all of a sudden, the front office figured out how we can win, putting the pieces together, winning four World Series in two decades. That’s pretty dang good. People don’t want to walk away from that.”

Mookie Betts’ return

Former Red Sox star Mookie Betts made his long-awaited return to Fenway Park over the weekend as a member of the Dodgers. It was his first game in Boston since being traded to L.A. in 2020.

Asked about seeing Betts in a uniform that did not say “Red Sox” on it, Ortiz said the team made sure to avoid the same happening with star third baseman Rafael Devers.

“They didn’t want to make the same mistake with Rafael Devers. That’s why they went in and agreed on things with Raffy,” Ortiz said.

“Mookie’s the type of player who, to me, is the full package. To me, Mookie had the personality, had the leadership, tremendous athlete, someone that basically his first steps were under my wings. What I’m seeing coming out of Mookie right now is not surprising to me. I was expecting that since Day 1 because he works extremely hard. He’s got incredible discipline. Since he first came in the big leagues, he showed what he was going to be. I’m very happy for him, his family, because the kid is just sensational. He’s on another level.”

The ‘Tampa Way’

Ortiz believes the Red Sox should use the Houston Astros as their model for building long-term success and not the Tampa Bay Rays.

“I think everybody is trying to do the Tampa way. I like the Tampa way, the way they function during the regular season, but it hasn’t worked for them during the playoffs. Every year they’re in the playoffs, every year they dominate the division. … But with no result. Even with the perfection they’ve got going on, there’s still something missing. …

“A lot of teams have won with the guys from the farm. Look at the Houston Astros. That is an organization that I would copy based on what they’re doing,” Ortiz added. “Because they know how to figure out during the regular season, and they know how to figure it out during the playoffs.”

Praise for Brayan Bello

Brayan Bello has earned comparisons to Red Sox great Pedro Martinez, who has served as a mentor for the young right-hander. Obviously, he has a long way to go to reach Martinez’s level, but Ortiz understands why those comparisons are being made.

“Bello, he’s very challenging. There’s a few things he has that basically remind me of Pedro,” Ortiz said. “He throws his fastball, which is a good thing. He knows how to use it. I’m pretty sure at some point he’s going to be the ace here.”

You can watch the full interview with Ortiz below:

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