Baxter Holmes, Globe Correspondent wrote:PAWTUCKET, R.I. - The sellout crowd brayed a mighty, encouraging "Papi! Papi! Papi!" chant as David Ortiz stepped out of the batter's box to gain his composure.
Flashbulbs in McCoy Stadium sparkled like diamonds in sunlight as the cadence proceeded from the packed infield seats to the fans lining the left-field railing down to the berm in left-center, full of fans seated on the grass.
With the count 1-2 and the bases empty, the Red Sox slugger stepped back in and in one violent swing - one that no doubt released some eagerness to play that built over his nearly two-month absence from baseball - smashed a home run to right field that landed in the Toledo Mud Hens' bullpen.
Big Papi is back. At least, his style of play is.
"That's my game," Ortiz said. "To be able to swing like that when I have an injury before that I can't even hold onto my bat, it's a good feeling."
Last night's 15-6 Pawtucket win was the first of Ortiz's seven-game minor league rehab stint. He will return to the Red Sox' lineup a week from tonight when the Yankees come to Fenway Park.
Ortiz will play three more games in Pawtucket (tonight, tomorrow, and Sunday) before heading to Double A Portland for three games and said before last night's game that he intends to finish his minor league stint no matter how well he does.
The slugger hadn't played since May 31 at Baltimore, when he partially tore a tendon sheath in his left wrist. He said there was no pain, and the brace on his left hand was for precaution.
Batting third, Ortiz popped up in his first plate appearance, homered in his second, lined out in his third, and walked in the sixth inning. Manager Ron Johnson lifted him for pinch runner Sandy Madera after the walk.
In all, he saw 21 pitches and made contact on six, while nine were balls.
He said before the game he wanted to work on his timing.
How did he feel afterward?
"I saw pitches. I chased a few high fastballs, but other than that, I was taking those bad pitches. That's how you work on your timing," he said.
When Ortiz swung, it was in powerful strokes, as if he were trying to send a ball across state lines.
"I've been swinging the way I normally do," he said. "That way, if anything comes out, I can feel it and stay away from playing until I get to be fine. But everything came out pretty good."
His home run in the fourth sparked a scoring barrage. The PawSox poured on six more runs in the inning, four in the fifth, and four in the sixth for a season-high total, eclipsing the 14 they scored at Durham May 31. That delighted the crowd of 11,460, fifth largest in Pawtucket history.
Though he said he misses playing at Fenway and that he's eager to rejoin the Red Sox, Ortiz said hearing the "Papi!" chant made him feel at home.
"That's exactly what happens at Fenway," he said. "They're calling your name and it kind of pumps you up, puts you in the mood."
You know he's doing better since he asked to play sunday (Was originally suppossed to sit out a day) I will admit, a part of me will always be dreading any kind of updates telling us about him re-injuring his wrist or whatever... but that won't happen
PavanoAllstars wrote:You know he's doing better since he asked to play sunday (Was originally suppossed to sit out a day) I will admit, a part of me will always be dreading any kind of updates telling us about him re-injuring his wrist or whatever... but that won't happen
Steve Crowe, Boston Globe wrote:July 18, 2008 08:29 PM PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- David Ortiz just blasted his second home run in as many games with the Pawtucket Red Sox, a scorcher into the left field seats.
The homer came on a 1-1 belt-high fastball on the outside part of the plate. Ortiz took it the opposite way for his second home run and fourth RBI of this rehab stint.
Ortiz was also going to left field a lot during batting practice.
1st pitch: Dribbler foul down first base line 2nd pitch: Ball, low and inside 3rd pitch: 3-run home run to left field on a 1-1 belt-high fastball
Steve Crowe, Globe Correspondent wrote:PAWTUCKET, R.I. - David Ortiz once again supplied the power, but it wasn't enough to keep the lights on at McCoy Stadium.
"I was a little nervous," Ortiz said last night of the weather.
He didn't look nervous at the plate, hitting his second home run in as many nights to help lead the Pawtucket Red Sox to a 6-1 victory over the Toledo Mud Hens before 11,140 at rain-soaked, temporarily blacked-out McCoy Stadium. The game was called with one out in the bottom of the seventh.
Ortiz was 1 for 2 with three RBIs and two walks. His line during the two-game minor league rehab stint: 2 for 5 (.400), 2 HRs, 4 RBIs, 2 walks, 3 runs, and no strikeouts. He saw 18 pitches and swung at eight.
Last night's home run was to left field on a 1-and-1, belt-high fastball off Anastacio Martinez in the fifth inning. Ortiz also went to the opposite field frequently during batting practice. His home run Thursday was to right.
"That's something I try to work on, hit with power all over the field," Ortiz said after the game.
"It means he is feeling pretty good about the injury," said PawSox manager Ron Johnson. "You can't be concerned with an injury if you're out there trying to do things with the bat that way."
Ortiz, on the disabled list since June 3 with a partially torn tendon sheath in his left wrist, was lifted for pinch runner Sandy Madera in the seventh after a six-pitch walk in his fourth and final plate appearance.
He popped to third on the third pitch of his first at-bat. Toledo had the patented Ortiz shift on, but third baseman Kody Kirkland, positioned where the shortstop normally plays, had plenty of time to make the play.
Ortiz walked on six pitches in the fourth inning. He swung and missed with two healthy hacks, but Martinez, who was in the Red Sox organization from 1998-2005, bounced a breaking ball to give Ortiz a free pass. He scored the game's first run when Jeff Corsaletti hit a double to center over a leaping Clete Thomas, who misjudged the ball.
Ortiz said his wrist injury caused his top hand to fly off the bat during his swing. That no longer appears to be an issue.
"You give the ball direction with your top hand, so it wasn't easy after I got hurt to hold onto the bat or do anything with the bat," he said.
Ortiz said before the game he will play the entire seven-game rehab assignment, no matter how he performs.
"[I'm] not rushing," Ortiz said. "I'm getting old."
Ortiz is scheduled to return to the Red Sox next Friday for the start of a three-game set against the Yankees at Fenway Park. He has two more games left with Pawtucket (tonight and tomorrow) and is scheduled to play three games with Double A Portland next week.
This is the first minor league stint for Ortiz since July 2001, when he was rehabbing from a right wrist injury with the Double A affiliate for the Minnesota Twins (New Britain).
Ortiz said he thinks the rehab is on track from a health standpoint.
"I'm feeling good, but I'm going to take my time," he said. "It's only been a few days, and I haven't played in six weeks."
Three games straight now. I'm glad they're being careful with him, but I'm not entirely sure what they're waiting for. Is DHing in the minors really easier on your body than doing it in the majors? HR's in three straight games suggest he might be ready to check out MLB pitching again.