NEW YORK -- The walking boot finally removed, David Ortiz took another step toward returning from his Achilles' heel injury at Yankee Stadium, and planned to take pregame batting practice before the Red Sox opened a three-game series.
Ortiz's 15-day disabled list tenure will end Wednesday. After the New York series, Boston returns to Fenway for a 10-game homestand against Detroit, Minnesota, and Texas.
"I think he's on pace to be back when his [disabled list] stint is over," manager Bobby Valentine said. "It's hard to tell. We've faced some good pitching. He's been so on since day one of the season. It's hard to say you haven't missed him."
By all accounts, Valentine is right. Since Ortiz was injured, the Sox are 3-6 and are batting .243. Ortiz is hitting .316 with a 1.024 OPS so far this season, and, until his injury, was an offensive mainstay for a lineup that saw its fair share of injuries.
But Ortiz was the latest casualty.
"Every day is different. Every day for me has been improving. But we'll see. If I'm ready to go, I'm ready to go," Ortiz said.
"It's been a slow process. It's something ... you just need some time off, seems like. When I get back, I'll have to deal with the ups and downs. Just need some time off."
Any lingering issues with his Achilles' heel, however, have not affected Ortiz at the plate. Pain still comes when he runs, but not while batting.
"This is my front leg," said Ortiz, pointing to his injured heel. "Every time I swing, it spins around. You put a lot of pressure on it. It doesn't bother me to hit, though. I never had any issues with that, just the running thing."