Over the weekend Red Sox fans were a bit skeptical when David Ortiz told the Boston Herald he may not be ready for Opening Day and then could not run the bases in a workout Sunday due to soreness in his foot as he attempts to come back from an Achilles injury suffered last July.
Good news came Monday when Ortiz was able to do base running drills without any issues, and the slugger was highly optimistic about being ready for April.
“It was a good day,” Ortiz told reporters in Fort Myers, Fla.. “I was moving pretty good. I don’t think I can run faster than that. Let’s just see how things go later on tonight.”
Ortiz now hopes to not feel any soreness after his running sessions.
“Actually, I was running like I wasn’t worried about anything,” said Ortiz. “That’s important. I can today better than the last time I ran. Everybody was pretty happy about it. I’m happy about it because nothing bothers me when I was running. That’s a plus. That is telling me that I’m going in the right direction, you know what I’m saying?”
The 37-year-old is scheduled to run again on Tuesday, and if he does so with no problems that will be a good next step. Sox manager John Farrell hopes to get him game-ready by the end of the week.
“After a day like this I know I’m going to get sore,” Ortiz said. “I’m definitely going to get sore at some point today. But I want to see what kind of soreness I’m getting and then that’s when I call [Dan Dyrek, team physician] the next day, in the morning. We communicate and then they tell me we’re going to do this today. We’re either going to shut it down or do some slow running. The thing is they don’t want to create more pain on top of the pain.”
For the Red Sox and Ortiz, the one thing they need to shy away from is rushing the slugger back too soon. The team learned the hard way last year with Carl Crawford as he was rumored to have returned to action prematurely from a surgically repaired wrist, and then suffered an elbow ailment during the spring, forcing him to miss the first three months of the year.
“Oh, I want to play way before that, you know what I’m saying,” Ortiz said of being ready for the season opener. “Of course, that’s why we’re doing all this stuff so I’m good to go for opening day. The main goal right now is to make sure I get to play down here. If I play down here, that means I’m good to go.”
It would not be the worst thing in the world for Ortiz to miss Opening Day and the early part of the season. The most important thing for the Sox and Ortiz is to make sure the Achilles is fully healed and he is not at any risk of a re-injury when he does return. The worst case scenario would obviously be Ortiz coming back too soon and then being forced to miss a significant amount of time if something were to happen to the foot.
While Monday was very encouraging, the Red Sox will continue to heavily monitor Ortiz and be careful with their DH.
Follow Metro Boston Red Sox beat writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @hannable84.