Ortiz will 'probably' attend funeral

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz said Tuesday he would "probably" attend the Thursday funeral of friend and former major league pitcher Jose Lima, who died over the weekend.

Ortiz has been playing with "Lima R.I.P." inscribed on his cap, his tribute to Lima, who died at age 37 of what is being called a heart attack.

"We were so close, man,'' Ortiz said, pulling out his cell phone and showing a picture of the two men smiling, their arms around each other. "Everyone loved him.''

Lima's funeral is scheduled for Thursday morning in Flushing, N.Y. The Sox are scheduled to return home after Wednesday night's game and are scheduled to play the Royals in Boston on Thursday night.

Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Thursday that Ortiz "has our blessing" if he elects to attend Lima's funeral. Asked if Ortiz would be back for Thursday night's game, Francona said "we told him he can do what he needs to do.''

Gordon Edes covers the Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com. Follow him on Twitter.