March 18. 2013 10:21PM

Bad heels still holding Red Sox' Ortiz back

Boston Herald

BRADENTON, Fla. - For the past few days, David Ortiz and the Red Sox hoped the slugger would feel good enough to resume taking batting practice Monday in Fort Myers with Red Sox players who didn't make the trip here to play the Pirates.

But that isn't happening.

"He's still not feeling like he's ready to begin that next phase. That's where we're at right now," Farrell said. "There's a concern from the standpoint that it's been a couple more days than we thought or projected."

Ortiz expressed a similar sentiment of frustration back in Fort Myers, where he spoke to a couple of reporters.

"Not being able to play and do what I'm supposed to do by this time is not fun," Ortiz said. "I'm just trying to deal with it and the setback is pretty much frustrating the most. You think you're doing the right thing to get better and next thing you know it's like walking backwards. That's the part of this game that I hate playing.

"That's the one thing we're pretty much trying to avoid, just coming back and not being able to stay in the lineup the way everybody is expecting me to be. That's why I'm going to approach this depending on how I feel. I'm going try to be smart about it. When I go back in, I don't want to any setbacks."

Ortiz referenced last August, when he attempted to return before shutting it down for the season, and his most recent attempt to come back a couple of weeks ago.

On March 9, Ortiz was diagnosed with inflammation in both heels and shut down from physical activity for a period of at least a week, a development that all but ruled him out of being ready for Opening Day. But it has been nine days and he hasn't been able to do much more than run on an underwater treadmill.

"The season is not Opening Day. The season is six months long," Ortiz said. "If I can be there for the next five-and-a-half months or five months of the season I think we'll cover more ground than being there just for Opening Day and missing the next five-and-a-half months. We want to be there for the right time, hopefully."

As always, the truest test of Ortiz' heels will come when he tries to run the bases, a stage that he won't reach until after he resumes hitting.

Meanwhile, shortstop Stephen Drew is exhibiting "similar symptoms," Farrell said, to what he has been dealing with since suffering a concussion on March 7. If those symptoms persist for another 24 hours, Farrell said Drew will visit with Dr. Michael Collins, director of the sports concussion program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Until now, Drew has been in touch with Collins via phone.

As expected, Farrell confirmed that Jose Iglesias would be the Opening Day shortstop in the event Drew isn't ready. The Red Sox are more comfortable with Pedro Ciriaco in a utility role.