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Ortiz will be in Pawtucket on Thursday

Designated hitter David Ortiz told ESPNBoston.com that his short rehab stint with Triple-A Pawtucket will begin Thursday, marking another step in his long and winding road back to the Red Sox lineup.

Ortiz played in a simulated game Monday in Fort Myers, Fla., an extended spring training game Tuesday and was supposed to play again Wednesday. Instead, that plan was scrapped and by Wednesday afternoon Ortiz was headed north for Pawtucket's home opener Thursday night.

The 37-year-old Ortiz has told manager John Farrell that he would feel comfortable returning to Boston after 25 to 30 at-bats for Pawtucket, which puts him on track to potentially rejoin the Red Sox for their April 19-21 series against the Kansas City Royals at Fenway Park.

Ortiz has missed all but one game since injuring his Achilles last July. He began spring training on track to begin the season with the Red Sox, but soreness in his heel kept him out of Grapefruit League action and delayed his return.

If he returns by the 19th, he will have missed the first 18 days of the season. Ortiz has a clause in his contract that increases his 2014 salary from $11 million to $13-15 million depending on how many games he misses due to the Achilles injury. Ortiz will reportedly make the full $15 million next season if he spends 20 or fewer days on the disabled list due to the injury. He is making $14 million this season regardless of the number of days he’s sidelined.

Before being sidelined with the Achilles injury last season, Ortiz was putting up monster numbers. Through 90 games, he had 23 homers, 60 RBIs, a .318 batting average and a 1.026 OPS.