FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After completing some intense ladder drills following batting practice Friday morning, Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said he was “very happy” about his progress in coming back from an injury to his right Achilles.
Ortiz injured the Achilles last July and missed all but one of the team’s remaining games. The Red Sox are taking extreme caution with the injury and are bringing him back slowly in the hopes that he will be ready to play by Opening Day.
“I’m excited,” Ortiz said. “Going from what I was to what I am right now, this offseason I kind of struggled at the beginning, with all the treatment and stuff, I was having a hard time even walking. Thank God we got doctors who know what’s up. They’re aware of your situation. Everything they told me it was going to be like, it’s like they saw it before. Yeah, we’re good.’’
Ortiz has been hitting, but the Red Sox have thus far held the 37-year-old back from baserunning drills. He would need to go through those before being cleared to play in any Grapefruit League games. He said Friday he wasn’t sure when he would start running the bases.
“I think that will be the easy part, I would say. They just want to get you prepared for all that. Pounding, when you step on the base, all that stuff,” Ortiz said. "When you get through all these drills, you’re good to go. We do a lot of twisting, a lot of turning, a lot of stepping hard on the one foot. Pretty sure that once the time comes to run the bases it’s because I’m good to go.’’
As for when he would begin playing games, Ortiz wasn’t sure, saying that though he is anxious, he agrees with the team’s cautious approach with his injury.
“I’d like to be in the game tomorrow,” he said. "No question. But they’re just being smart, not trying to rush. We’ve got another six weeks, still, they want to make sure when I’m in, there’s no setback.’’
Red Sox manager John Farrell said Thursday he thought Ortiz would need about two weeks of spring training games in order to properly prepare him to be ready for Opening Day.
“Baseball is all about timing, so the more you play, especially a guy like myself, who hasn’t played in a while, it’s better," Ortiz said.
Is next weekend a realistic goal for a return to game action?
“Hopefully. I’m going at it, you guys see me, we’re doing things every day,” Ortiz said. “When they know, when they feel I’m good to go, I’ll be good to go.’’
For now, Ortiz will have to settle for small victories. He said hitting no longer gives him any pain and that, though he has experienced soreness after some of his recent workouts, it’s a “good sore” and not the kind he was feeling last season.
“It’s not the ‘bad’ sore. It’s the ‘good’ sore,” Ortiz explained. “The ‘good sore’ from the workout, I’m saying. It’s not the sore I was feeling last year once I got back. It’s a good sore. When you work out normally, your muscle gets sore, and you go from there.’’
Ortiz initially was injured on July 16 as he was heading into second base ahead of Adrian Gonzalez’s home run. He returned five weeks later, going 2 for 4 with a double on Aug. 24, but then shut it down for the rest of the season.
Seven months after suffering the initial injury, it’s still unclear when he will make his return. Nevertheless, Ortiz was optimistic when asked whether he thought the Achilles would ever be 100 percent healthy.
“That’s why you do things to get to that point,” Ortiz said. “Every injury, it doesn’t matter what it is, what kind it is, you gotta go through a program to rebuild that place where you got injured. Treatment, things like that, and you’ll be good to go.
“The last MRI we had of my Achilles [here in Florida], my Achilles was normal, just like the other one,” he said. “I just have a little calcification down there, which is going away, seems like it, because of the things I’m able to do. So hopefully it’s not an issue later on.’’
Ortiz said he was no longer worried about re-injuring the tendon.
“A tear is not the case anymore,” Ortiz said. “That little tear I had is gone, because of all the things we did in the offseason. Like I said, the picture of my Achilles looks normal, looks like a brand-new Achilles. That’s good we never went in there to do any cut, anything like that. Just [let it] heal up, from all the process we went through in the offseason.
“So I’m not afraid of that. If I’m afraid of that, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing. If you have a tear, any bad move that you make, it would snap. So that’s not my concern anymore. I think we’ll be fine.’’