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Red Sox great Ortiz apparently joining HOF

BOSTON — Boston’s Big Papi appears headed to the Baseball Hall of Fame -- no last-minute walk-off needed.

The Red Sox slugger looks to be on track for induction in Cooperstown this summer, riding the strength of his on- and off-field achievements to overcome stigmas that have stalled or derailed the candidacies of some of his predecessors.

Namely, Ortiz appears to have bucked anti-designated hitter sentiment that has been blunted by the inductions of Frank Thomas, Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines. And Ortiz’s lone reported positive for performance-enhancing drugs – on an expected anonymous 2003 survey test lacking the usual due process – seems to be hurting him less than the more substantial evidence against candidates like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez.

Through Friday, Ortiz had been named on 84% of the ballots revealed at the bbhottracker.com website maintained by former Oakland Athletics fan Ryan Thibodaux and his number-crunching minions. A candidate needs 75% for induction.

Clemens and Bonds, all-time greats whose accomplishments are tainted by steroid use, were barely above the threshold in their 10th and final appearance on the baseball writers’ ballot.