PAWTUCKET – It was clear that David Ortiz was in no mood to stroll down memory lane.
Asked if he felt a touch of nostalgia upon returning to McCoy Stadium for the first time since the memorable three-game show he put on during the summer of 2008, the Red Sox slugger offered a wry smile. After being down for so long, it’s clear that Ortiz is using his rehab stint with the PawSox as a prime opportunity to make up for lost time.
“Been a while, huh? Yeah, man, just coming down here to get some at-bats and get that engine going,” said a succinct Ortiz.
The fact that Ortiz has docked here is a strong indication that the pain in his injured heels/Achilles has become manageable. Thursday marked the kickoff of what figures to amount to a week-long stay in Triple-A, the hope that the designated hitter can accrue in the neighborhood of 25-30 at-bats before rejoining his Boston teammates.
“I’m going to get plenty of at-bats until I feel like I’m ready to go,” responded Ortiz when asked if he had a finite number of PawSox at-bats in mind that would grant him peace of mind. “I just make sure I’m good to go. I make sure, when it comes down to hitting, I haven’t played in a while, so you just want to go back to that zone that everybody knows you need to be able to dominate once you get to the bigs because otherwise you’ll have a hard time.”
Besides re-acquainting himself with live pitching, Ortiz seeks to put his feet through their paces. He mentioned that he started to turn the corner late in spring training after Boston ruled him out to begin the season with the parent club.
“It’s been good lately. I’m finally seeing good results. I’m seeing what an injured player expects – moving forward,” he said.
The time Ortiz spent in Fort Myers earlier in the week served its purpose.
“I played down there. I ran hard. Everything went well. Now we’re moving up here, facing guys that some of them have pitched in the big leagues, some of them are going to be there pretty soon, and I’ll just make sure everything goes well,” he said. “When I’m ready, I’m ready.”
Ortiz understands that he’s come too far to take two steps back. While getting up to speed remains a priority, he also understands that how he fares from a numbers standpoint with the PawSox will not serve as the ultimate barometer – coming out of each game feeling healthy will.
“I want to make sure that I’m not running out there afraid or concerned about getting injured because that’s when things get worse,” said Ortiz.