NEW YORK — Designated hitter David Ortiz could return to the Red Sox lineup by the middle of this month and shortstop Stephen Drew is expected back as soon as Monday.
Both players are making rapid progress from their injuries. Drew, who suffered a concussion March 7, will start a rehabilitation assignment with Double A Portland Thursday.
Ortiz, who has been coming back from a small tear in his right Achilles’ tendon, will return to the team complex in Fort Myers, Fla., Thursday and is tentatively scheduled to play in an extended spring training game Monday.
“In talking with David, I think he’d feel comfortable with 25-30 at-bats, likely to be taken place at [Triple A] Pawtucket. When that rehab assignment begins remains to be seen,” manager John Farrell said Wednesday.
It’s uncertain how much time Ortiz will need in extended spring training before he starts his rehabilitation assignment with Pawtucket.
“We’re going to gauge that on him and when he’s ready to take that next progressive step,” Farrell said. “But I think it’s most important to note that he continues to move along the prescribed plan that’s in place. I know with each passing day he feels better about himself with the intensity ramping up with his running. So we’ll get a better read when he returns to Florida.”
Ortiz will start base-running drills Friday. He has been running in the outfield at Yankee Stadium before games in this series.
“Good. I’m doing fine,” Ortiz said during a brief encounter with reporters.
Drew played four innings in an extended spring training game in Fort Myers, his second such game in as many days. That cleared him to join the Sea Dogs, who open their season at home Thursday against Trenton.
Because Drew is on the seven-day concussion disabled list, a rehab assignment can last five games. The Sox are planning on Drew playing four games, which would line him up to rejoin the Sox for the home opener Monday against Baltimore.
“If we need to take advantage of the fifth game, we will,” Farrell said.
Drew suffered a concussion when he was hit in the helmet by a pitch.
“He’s starting to turn the corner in terms of day-to-day, feeling consistent without the spinning sensation he was going through,” Farrell said. “At the game speed he has been involved with, that hasn’t increased any of those symptoms. He’s in a good place now, all things considered.”
Pedroia stays in
Dustin Pedroia was in the lineup despite a sore right hand, the product of his diving headfirst into first base in the ninth inning of Monday’s game. He was checked out by a team doctor on Tuesday.
The Sox were concerned enough to have Triple A infielder Brock Holt in New York in case Pedroia had to go on the disabled list.
“I’m OK. They checked me out and it’s fine,” he said. “It was bothering me but I can play.”
Pedroia tore a muscle in right thumb last May and missed six games. The same injury put him on the disabled list in July.
Pedroia ended the season with a torn ligament in the pinky on his right hand that required surgery and a broken ring finger on his left hand. Diving into first base, or any base for that matter, may not be the wisest move for him.
Pedroia was 2 for 5 in Wednesday’s 7-4 victory against the Yankees and played all nine innings.
As he said he would in spring training, Farrell dropped Shane Victorino in the lineup against a righthander. Victorino hit seventh with the Yankees starting Hiroki Kuroda. Daniel Nava hit second and was the designated hitter, and Jonny Gomes was the bench.
Victorino and Nava are switch hitters. But Victorino is better hitting righthanded and Nava lefthanded.
It worked out well as Nava was 2 for 3 with a walk and an RBI, and was hit by a pitch. Victorino was 2 for 5 and drove in a run.
Gomes, a righthanded hitter, has been much better against lefties in his career. But the Sox will give him opportunities to face righthanders and believe he can improve.
“I thought he swung the bat well in spring training against righties,” Farrell said.
Farrell does not see the DH spot as a platoon until Ortiz returns. He plans to mix in other players.
“Until we get in a stretch of everyday games, who might need a [day] at the DH slot to get them off their feet for a day remains to be seen,” Farrell said. “That would be the intent as we go through six, seven to eight consecutive games.”
It was 43 degrees at first pitch and Sox shortstop Jose Iglesias took the field with much of his face encased in a hood and hand warmers in his pockets. “I hate the cold,” said the 23-year-old native of Cuba. “But I had to get used to it.” Iglesias said the 2010 season he played in Portland was the toughest on him. “It snowed in Binghamton (N.Y.) one time. I had never really seen snow before,” he said. “But I’ve learned how to deal with it. It’s part of the game when you play here.” . . . Will Middlebrooks, who played with a 102-degree fever on Monday, was feeling better after a day off and a steak dinner. He was 0 for 4 but hit the ball hard twice in his final two at-bats and made a nice bare-handed play on Brett Gardner’s bunt attempt in the first inning . . . Koji Uehara turned 38 Wednesday. He is the oldest player on the team . . . For Joel Hanrahan, the save was his first against the Yankees in his career . . . Jackie Bradley Jr. is the first Red Sox player to score multiple runs in his first two major league games since Sam Horn in 1987 . . . Mike Napoli’s infield single in the sixth inning was his first hit with the Red Sox.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.