Turns out, there may be more to David Ortiz’ slump than a negative newspaper column.
After going 1-for-4 with a three-run homer Tuesday night in the Red Sox’ 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, Ortiz revealed that he has been dealing with tightness in the oblique muscle on his left side for more than a week.
“It wasn’t bothering me that much (Tuesday), but it’s still a little bit (sore),” Ortiz said. “That’s why I’ve been pulling everything. … Hopefully it doesn’t get any worse.”
Ortiz didn’t play in Sunday’s 12-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. At the time, manager John Farrell said Ortiz merely was getting a scheduled day off, but on Monday night, he admitted that the oblique injury was the reason for the slugger’s absence.
Last week, Ortiz was annoyed when a Boston Globe columnist pressed him about whether his continued success at age 37 could be attributed to steroid use. The questions coincided with the start of a 1-for-20 slump that Ortiz lugged to the plate in the first inning Tuesday night before taking Rays lefty Matt Moore deep to right field.
After a torrid start since returning from a season-opening stint on the disabled list because of balky heels, Ortiz went 2-for-18 in a four-game series last week against the Minnesota Twins, then 0-for-8 in back-to-back games against the Blue Jays.
“It wasn’t bothering me that much (Monday), but it’s still a little bit (sore),” Ortiz said of the oblique issue. “It’s not at the point where you’ve pulled it, because if you pull it, you’re definitely not going to be able to play. I just come in early and treat it and try to move forward.”
–- RF Shane Victorino returned to the lineup after being removed from Sunday’s game with an apparent back injury. He finished 0-for-4 but was robbed of a likely double with the tying runs aboard in the seventh on a grab by first baseman James Loney.
–- Ortiz hit his 27th homer at Tropicana Field, the most among visiting players. His quick-exiting line drive to the right-field bleachers was his first off a left-hander (Matt Moore) since June 25, 2012, when he went deep against Toronto’s Darren Oliver.
— 2B Dustin Pedroia went 1-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to six games. He is 12-for-24 over the span. Pedroia’s streak of multi-hit games ended at five.
— RHP John Lackey lost his third straight start with a season-high in earned runs allowed (five) and low in innings pitched (4.1). He retired the first six batters he faced on 21 pitches and allowed all five runs over his next 57.
— Quote to note: “He (Mike Napoli) seemed to lose it in the whiteness of the ceiling. That was an odd inning to say the least: A check-swing double by (Luke) Scott the other way, and then with two outs and a tie score, a popup that looks at the time seemingly harmless.” — Boston manager John Farrell, on a five-run fourth inning in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Rays.
— INJURY REPORT: RF Shane Victorino returned to the Red Sox’ lineup Tuesday after being cleared to play following a violent collision with the bullpen fence in a 12-4 loss on May 12 to the Blue Jays. … C David Ross’ concussion symptoms haven’t subsided, causing him to stay in Boston. Ross is hopeful of rejoining the Red Sox during the weekend in Minnesota, although it’s unclear if he will be able to return from the DL when he’s eligible on May 19. … RHP Joel Hanrahan (right forearm strain) went on the 15-day disabled list May 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 9. Hanrahan has been shut down from throwing for an unspecified period of time, and he had a second-opinion meeting with Dr. James Andrews. Surgery is a possibility. … Andrew Bailey (right biceps inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 29. An MRI showed no structural damage.
— GAME NOTES: Lackey made his 300th big-league appearance. … Longoria was named American League Player of the Week on Monday for the period May 6-12. He has received the honor a club-record six times. He hit .464 with a .531 on-base percentage and .964 slugging percentage during the span, all of which came at Tropicana Field, with three homers, 11 RBI, five doubles and eight runs. … Loney entered the game leading the majors in batting (.376). … Red Sox RF Shane Victorino returned to the lineup after being removed from Sunday’s game with an apparent back injury. Victorino was taken to a Boston hospital after slamming into the outfield wall chasing a fly ball. … Molina was 0 for 13 on the current homestand before singling in his first two at-bats. … Lackey had not allowed more than three earned runs in his previous five starts this season.