Thursday, July 24, 2008

The rehab is over. Now the real work begins.

David Ortiz wrapped up a productive six-game tuneup through the minor leagues, albeit in quiet fashion, going 0 for 1 with a walk for the Double A Portland Sea Dogs last night.

Ortiz sat through a two-hour rain delay, only to get just one swing in two at-bats. The game was suspended in the fourth inning with the Sea Dogs leading Connecticut, 2-1.

After being on the shelf for almost two months with a torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, Ortiz seemed intent on getting in all the work he could before returning to the Red Sox.

"I'm very excited," he said during an impromptu pregame media scrum. "I've been out for a while, and to rejoin the big club, that's what I want to do. That's why I'm here. And try to help."

Ortiz stepped in against Brooks McNiven with two outs in the first but didn't swing, walking on five pitches.

He took two outside pitches for balls, then watched an 84-mile-per-hour offering catch the inside part of the plate. McNiven then missed with two more inside pitches.

Ortiz's second plate appearance came with one out and runners on first and second in the third inning.

McNiven came inside with what turned out to be his lone offering, and Ortiz chopped the ball to second baseman Dave Maroul, who started an inning-ending double play.

Ortiz promptly headed for the Portland clubhouse, where his Cadillac Escalade was already packed for the two-hour trip south.

Ortiz said he accomplished what he set out to do when he started the rehabilitation assignment last Thursday in Pawtucket, where he homered in each of his three games.

His final minor league numbers were modest: 5 for 17 (.294) with 3 home runs, 6 RBIs, 5 walks, and 3 strikeouts. But statistics were of no concern to him.

His wrist, however, is, and he said while there will always be discomfort, he's prepared to live with it the rest of the season.

"Sometimes you feel weak, because it's not an easy injury to deal with," he said. "But other than that, I feel fine. I think I am where I'd like to be. I'm not going to lie to you, I'm not 100 percent. But I'm close."

Ortiz said he expects to be in the lineup tomorrow when the New York Yankees come into Fenway Park for the start of a three-game series.

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