NEW YORK - So far, not much about David Ortiz' protracted recovery from a small tear in his right Achilles has gone according to plan. But the Red Sox have outlined a program for the slugging designated hitter to return to the lineup within three weeks.
"Sounds good," Ortiz said before Wednesday night's 7-4 victory against the Yankees.
After staying with the Red Sox through the first two games of the season-opening series at Yankee Stadium, Ortiz was slated to return to Fort Myers on Thursday to continue taking batting practice and go through agility drills and light running. Barring another setback, he's tentatively scheduled to start playing extended spring training games Monday, according to manager John Farrell.
Eventually, Ortiz will progress to a minor league rehab assignment. He believes he will need at least 25-30 at-bats in the minors before being ready to return, and Farrell said the Red Sox intend for him to get those at-bats in Triple A. Pawtucket plays its first home game April 11, the start of an eight-game stretch that may set up Ortiz to return during an April 19-21 series against Kansas City at Fenway Park.
Ortiz tested his sore heels by running on the field before Monday's opener. As always, running the bases figures to be the truest test of Ortiz' Achilles. Each time Ortiz has suffered a setback, it has come when he has tried to run the bases.
"Hopefully running in general is pretty much the same thing," Ortiz said. "I would say that when I'm running straight or making turns, it's pretty much like running the bases."
Said Farrell: "He continues to move along with the prescribed plan that's in place. I know that with each passing day, he feels better about himself, with the intensity of ramping up with his running."