PAWTUCKET, R.I. — Next stop Fenway Park?
As far as David Ortiz and Pawtucket Red Sox manager Gary DiSarcina are concerned, that’s where the Boston designated hitter should be Friday night when the team begins a homestand against Kansas City.
“My idea [during this rehab assignment] was to put the ball in play so I could run and see how it felt,” Ortiz said Thursday of his injured right Achilles’ tendon, after Pawtucket was belted, 14-5, by Lehigh Valley. “I got the chance to taste that. It feels good.
“I think I’ll go back to the big team [Friday] and try to keep it compact. I’m old enough to know to keep it compact. But my main key was to make sure my foot was fine.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell also believes Ortiz will be back on Friday, too.
“All things are pointing to his returning tomorrow when we get off this trip,’’ Farrell said before the Sox played the Indians at Cleveland. “To have his presence in the middle of the order certainly speaks for itself for the number of years and success he’s had. We certainly look forward to seeing him in the clubhouse tomorrow.”
Ortiz also said that because the Red Sox are leading the American League East, it may be easier for him to transition back to the majors.
“I love it . . . that’s less pressure for me,” he said. “Now I know that I can take my time and do my thing and not try to do too much and not try to carry the team on my back. The team is playing well. Hopefully, it will continue. That’ll make it easier on me.”
Even when Ortiz is activated, Red Sox fans shouldn’t expect to see him play on a daily basis — at least not initially.
“I might need a day off once in a while,” he said. “But hopefully that won’t be the whole year. I feel that at one point I’ll be 100 percent, so let’s get it going.
“It’s been very hard [being on the disabled list] . . . eight months. One thing people need to know is baseball’s not magical. You work your way in. That’s why we have spring training for a month and a half because you have to work on your timing and work on the things that keep you consistent. I work on that every day and know what it takes to get there.”
In six rehab games, Ortiz hit .222 (4 for 18) with four RBIs, no walks, and six strikeouts.
Ortiz’s first two-at bats on Thursday, against lefty Adam Morgan, were brutal.
Morgan induced Ortiz to strike out swinging on a 94-mile-per-hour fastball in the first. And Morgan repeated that feat in the third when he blew away Ortiz with a fastball clocked at 95.
But against righty Mike Stutes in the sixth, Ortiz jumped on a 90-m.p.h. fastball and crushed it off the elevated scoreboard in right field for a solo home run — his first extra-base hit during his rehab assignment.
“I’m getting more comfortable,” Ortiz said. “That’s me, when I’m getting comfortable. [Morgan] threw the ball pretty good. But like I say, the more pitching you face the better.
“Running also is part of the game. I think we know how we’re going to approach those days when I get on base a lot because it’s going to happen. I had a couple of those days here and it was fine.”
DiSarcina believes once Ortiz begins facing major league pitching, the more likely he’ll revert to his former self.
“His main concern is his lower legs,” DiSarcina said. “When you watch him swing, he’s a little late on fastballs. I chuckled and mentioned that maybe when you get in a big league stadium and the adrenaline’s going, bang, you’re on those.
“The best thing about having him down here is he left healthy. He doesn’t belong here.”