David Ortiz gets booed before every at-bat at Yankee Stadium for being on the Red Sox. It has been that way for the last decade, ever since Ortiz emerged as a Yankee-killer.
But Ortiz shares the same reverence for Derek Jeter as Yankees fans.
"For me, of course, he stands for the New York Yankees," Ortiz said before Jeter opened his final home series with the Red Sox on Tuesday. "He's one of the greatest of all-time. It's definitely going to be different not seeing No. 2 on the field.
"Who doesn't like the guy? Really, who doesn't?" the 38-year-old designated hitter said. "Have you ever heard a guy say, 'I don't like Derek Jeter'? He is the perfect professional. His whole career, he has done everything perfect. When you play against him, you play against the best."
Ortiz said he has never heard a negative comment about Jeter in his 18 years in the majors.
"Winning takes him to another level,” Ortiz said earlier this season. “He's a winner, plus he's a really good human being. Everybody likes him. ... He's one of the guys in the game that I'm going to miss — a lot."
When Ortiz reaches second base, he can often be seen in a good-natured conversation with Jeter that often results in laughter.
Talking about Jeter also gave Ortiz time to stop and realize his own baseball mortality. Ortiz will turn 39 in November and is signed through next season, meaning he will be three years younger than when Ted Williams played in his last game in 1960.
“It happens to him today,” Ortiz said. “Tomorrow it will happen to me. All of us have to pass the torch to someone else. In his case, it's very special. He's a great player who is going to be missed. Life will continue. The game will continue. But it's going to be a while before you have another Derek Jeter wearing a uniform."
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.