It looks like the Sox will do just that on Friday, as manager John Farrell said before Thursday’s game that David Ortiz is set to return from his injury following a rehab stint at Triple-A Pawtucket.
“It sounded like he finished up on a positive note,” Farrell told reporters. “He feels good about where he’s at. All things are pointing to his return [Friday] when we get off this trip.”
The Red Sox will return home on Friday for a 10-game homestand, which kicks off with a three-game set against the Royals. If Ortiz does make his return on Friday, he’ll slide into his usual DH role, which has been occupied primarily by a combination of Daniel Nava, Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli in the slugger’s absence.
Ortiz went 4-for-20 during his Triple-A rehab assignment, but he did homer in his final at-bat on Thursday, sending a 1-0 offering over the right-field fence in the PawSox’ 14-5 loss to the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Following Thursday’s game, Ortiz expressed confidence that he’s ready for a big league return.
“There were some times I could have walked, but my idea was trying to put the ball in play so I could run and see how this [Achilles tendon] feels,” said Ortiz, who didn’t walk and struck out twice during his rehab assignment. “I got the chance to do that and it feels good. So I’ll go back to the big team tomorrow and try to keep it going.”
The Red Sox hold the second-best record in the majors at 10-4, so Ortiz’s production hasn’t been missed all that much. A lot of the team’s success, however, stems from the starting pitching, and Ortiz’s bat should help boost an offense that has seen the powerful Will Middlebrooks struggle of late.
Ortiz certainly has no complaints about the team’s overall success thus far, though.
“I love it,” Ortiz told reporters. “That’s less pressure for me. Now I know I can take my time to do my thing and walk into a good funk, not try to do too much and not try to carry them on my back. The team is playing well and hopefully it will continue which will make it easier on me. Just keep on winning.”
Farrell notes that Ortiz will help “lengthen our lineup,” and the Red Sox skipper is among those excited for the DH’s return. Ortiz, meanwhile, is trying to keep a realistic approach as he prepares to step onto the Fenway Park field for the first time this season.
“I might need some days off once in a while, but hopefully that doesn’t have to be the whole year,” Ortiz said. “Hopefully at one point I’m like, ‘OK, I’m 100 percent so let’s get going.’”
The biggest factor in determining whether he’s 100 percent, according to Ortiz, is running.
“To be honest with you, running the whole time is not going to go in my favor. But running is part of the game,” Ortiz said. “Those days, like [Thursday], where you hit a homer and you don’t run the bases, those are plus-days that are going to save you for the following days. We know how [to handle it when] we’re going to get on base a lot, because it is going to happen, regardless. You just have to be ready for it. I’ve had a couple of days, so I’m not going to go too crazy about it.”
Certainly, Ortiz will have to prove he’s capable of running the bases, as the Red Sox’ hope is that he’ll return to being an on-base machine. If he just so happens to launch a few balls over the fence, though, that won’t hurt, either.