While Big Papi has been comfortable taking batting practice for some time now, it's mainly the running that is keeping him from reclaiming his place in the lineup. All signs had pointed to Ortiz returning to game action by the end of Boston's series with Cleveland on Sunday — but on Saturday he was still too sore to run.
It doesn't seem to be a matter of if the burly designated hitter will return, but when. With only 47 games left on the schedule, however, Ortiz's comeback may be too little, too late. And with the question being more of an issue of pain tolerance than of healing a broken bone or torn muscle, the timetable is a bit more challenging to predict.
Ortiz has been productive in the 89 games he's played in, sporting a line of .316/.414/.609 to go along with 23 home runs and 58 RBIs. The Red Sox would love to have him back sooner rather than later, and Ortiz will not likely miss too much more time — but then again, it appeared unlikely that Ortiz would be sitting on the bench Sunday. Yet that's where he will find himself, for the 26th game in a row, as he continues to try to make his way back.