If you need a reset, Nelson Cruz smoked Red Sox starter John Lackey on Saturday, and Lackey, a noted hater of steroid users, said the media and fans have a short memory in relation to Cruz and his suspension last year for performance-enhancing drugs.
The next day, Buck Showalter said the Red Sox should “check [their] own backyard” before looking elsewhere, which many took as a call out of the Red Sox’s reported history with PEDs.
Showalter never mentioned Ortiz by name, but some talking heads on MLB Network did. The Red Sox slugger, who failed a drug test for an unspecified substance when there were no rules against PEDs in baseball, seemed to be the target, and took offense when MLB Network said he got a “free pass” for it.
“It was the Lackey-and-Showalter thing, going back and forth,” Ortiz told Boston’s WEEI.com last night. “Showalter didn’t say anything about me. … But then, when they are commenting about what Showalter said, they brought my name up. Then one of the guys wanted to say that I got a free pass. And to be honest with you, in this country, nobody gets a free pass.
"He wants to make it sound like I got a free pass because nobody can point fingers at me directly. But the reason why I got that fake [expletive] free pass that he’s saying is because they pointed fingers at me with no proof. It’s easier to do it that way than having something that they can say, ‘Yes, you did this, you did that.’ My [expletive], I call straight up bull. Let me tell you. You don’t get no free pass here, especially a guy like me. I don’t get no free pass.”
I don’t know who Showalter was referring to when he made those comments. Perhaps he saw a series worth of Brock Holt and Mookie Betts and decided something was amiss in the Red Sox clubhouse, or maybe he remembers Ortiz’s issues from over a decade ago.
Either way, I suppose Ortiz is right to get defensive, just as Showalter was right to tell the Red Sox worry about themselves. Players on both sides have skeletons, and the only way to get the real upper hand is to beat them. The Orioles did that, and it’s time for everyone to move on.