Is it time to worry about David Ortiz?
The big designated hitter, who represents perhaps the most important piece of the lineup, still feels pain in his injured right Achilles, seven months after suffering the injury. He didn’t sprint all winter and spent the early portions of spring training trying to run the bases, with varying degrees of success.
The doctors have promised Ortiz that the pain he’s merely feeling is not an indiciation of possible reinjury, but simply the breakdown of scar tissue and an area of calcification that occurred behind the Achilles, which is irritating the tendon. He has been told the slight tear he suffered in the Achilles last year is healed.
Speaking to the Boston Herald recently, Ortiz acknowledged his frustration with the ups and downs of rehab. He said the biggest hurdle was staying loose within a game, because his heel often becomes sore between at-bats.
“I want to be sure that when I get back, it’s for the rest of the season,” he said. “I don’t want it to be one week on, two weeks off. That’s why we’ve been smart about how we’re approaching things, so when I come back and play, I’m going to get in the lineup and stay there.”
The Red Sox believe that Ortiz will be ready for the start of the season, and the 37-year-old slugger who just signed a two-year, $26 million contract is optimistic. But he can’t guarantee it.
“We’re trying,” he said. “We’re trying. I want to be ready, but injuries are injuries. You want to be back the next day, but it doesn’t work that way.”
In a split-squad game on Thursday, Mike Napoli hit a three-run homer and Dustin Pedroia lined a two-run double to lift the Red Sox by the Minnesota Twins 12-5.
Both hits came in Boston’s five-run fifth inning at the expense of Twins reliever Caleb Thielbar.
That gave the Red Sox an eight-run lead after they had reached Twins starter Kevin Correia for three runs. He gave up three runs on six hits in 2 1/3 innings.
“I just wasn’t able to throw back-to-back good pitches,” Correia said on the Red Sox website. “I’m pretty close to where I need to be, but it’s just backing up a good pitch with another one and I’ll probably get an out. I’ve had some longer innings and I’ve given up a lot of hits, but a lot them have been singles, which is good for me. It means I’m that close to making it a poorly hit ball hit to somebody.”
Stephen Drew had an RBI single for the Red Sox in the first inning while Drew Sutton had a two-run double in the second on a ball misplayed by Joe Benson, who lost the ball in the sun. Boston added another run in the third on Ryan Lavarnway’s RBI single.
The Twins scored four runs in the fourth off new Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan, who gave up RBI singles to Eduardo Escobar and Jeff Clements.
Boston starter Clay Buchholz had a strong outing has he threw three scoreless innings, giving up two hits and striking out four.
Ryan Dempster gets the start for the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. Friday against the Twins.
NOTES: Outfielder Ryan Westmoreland, at one time the team’s top minor league prospect, announced his retirement in an e-mail to the Providence Journal following a pair of surgeries to remove cavernous malformations in his brain. “Although it is a very difficult decision for me, it has become clear that the neurological damage caused by the most recent cavernous malformation and surgery leaves me with physical challenges that make it impossible to play the game at such a high level,” he wrote. … 1B Mike Napoli (hip) may have started games a week late, but he hit the ground running, smashing a pair of mammoth home runs in his first week and playing a solid first base. “I’ve never felt anything in my hips,” he said. “I’m not even thinking about it on the field. I’m just trying to play the game. It’s nice to show people that don’t really understand the situation that everything’s all right and we’re moving forward. I guess it shows people that I can play the game.” … LHP Felix Doubront, who arrived at camp out of shape and with a sore shoulder, made his first spring start and vowed to open the season in the rotation. “I’ll start throwing more innings here and start facing more hitting and start gaining my confidence,” Doubront said. “I’m 100 percent confident, but I have to feel 100 percent ready to pitch. That’s what I’m doing now. I’m working hard every day to feel that way and it starts today.”