Big Papi dealing with torn meniscus
Slugger may undergo offseason surgery on right knee
BOSTON -- A revived David Ortiz had already delivered three hits and two RBIs Thursday night before fouling a ball soundly off his right knee. You could call it a case of bad aim or painful irony.
Ortiz's right knee has become a big topic in Red Sox Nation the last couple of days amid a published report on Wednesday that he was set to undergo an MRI and might have surgery following the season.
Big Papi touched base on the subject following Thursday night's game and backed manager Terry Francona's pregame assertion that no MRI is in the works.
However, Ortiz did confirm that he might undergo surgery once the season is over and said that he has been battling a torn meniscus since a series at Yankee Stadium in the first half of 2006.
"I just kept on playing through it last year and it was fine, and this year it's been bothering me more than it normally used to, but I still can play like that," said Ortiz. "It's been bothering me to hit like I normally do, because I use my legs a lot to hit, and I bend on my knee and put a lot of pressure on my knee. And sometimes it becomes sore, and it kind of makes me stand up more as a hitter and makes you stand up at the plate different."
Fortunately, the foul ball didn't seem to add any further damage to Ortiz's knee.
"It hurt. But I'm fine, I'm OK," said Ortiz.
Ortiz said that he had multiple MRIs on the knee last year, but none this season. He said there are no current plans to get more tests and the only thing that would change his course of action is if he developed inflammation.
"Right now I'm not getting inflammation, it just gets sore once in a while," said Ortiz.
The big slugger has no interest in having surgery during the season.
"I think I can probably [play through] it," Ortiz said. "I don't want to get out of the lineup right now, especially the way we've been doing. I think I'll be fine. I don't think I need to go in there now.
"If I get out of the lineup, you're talking about making a lot of difference, plus I'm not getting inflammation right now, which is a good thing. You get soreness, but if you get inflammation that means it's getting worse, and then you need to go in [and have surgery]. I can stick with it."
Ortiz has nine hits in his last 16 at-bats. But his overall production (14 homers, 52 RBIs) is well behind last year's pace, when he belted a team-record 54 homers.
"David is a big boy," Francona said. "If you have anything going on in your knee and then you have another problem, they all kind of get related. One thing doesn't help the other. I think sometimes that's what happens; you aggravate one thing and then another thing hurts. I think it's very common, but it's also very understandable."
Francona remains confident that Ortiz -- despite nagging ailments in his legs -- will have a strong second half.
"I think at times his legs bother him, we're aware of that," Francona said. "But again, injuries, there's only so much I'm really comfortable talking about. The MRI, they're not scheduling an MRI. When the season is over, every player on our team will have an exit physical, as they always do. Guys that need help, or [need to get] looked at, will be looked at. I don't think David feels like he's going to miss probably any games in the second half. If he needs to, I'll give him a rest."
How did Ortiz develop the injury in the first place?
"It was in New York during batting practice," Ortiz said. "They put that net on the field but it was kind of loose. When we start hitting, we kind of bunt at the beginning. Mikey Lowell, he went to bunt and he bunted the ball this way and I went to catch it, my foot never spun. My knee did, but my foot never did.
"My foot got stuck in the net. I remember I felt that weird feeling right away. I went right away to the trainer. I thought I wasn't going to be able to play that night, but I went to the trainer and he massaged me or something, but I ended up playing. I was kind of feeling weird when I was hitting, because I couldn't really bend on my knee. When I was swinging and I was trying to spin with my front leg, I wasn't able to do it."
Now it's fair to wonder if Ortiz can go on the power surge he's made commonplace with his right knee bothering him at times.
"Well, I don't know what to tell you," Ortiz said. "I've been watching a lot of videos. At some point, there's some days I want to sit on my leg like I normally do, but sometimes, because I'm really sore, I can't put too much pressure on it, so it makes me stand up more than I normally do -- and that kind of affects me when I swing the bat. When I stand up more, my body goes forward more than what I normally do when I'm hitting and it changes things. I'm OK, I'll keep fighting."
With treatment, Ortiz hopes the knee will improve throughout the season. He is also asking Mother Nature for a nice, hot summer.
"I think the cold weather might have affected me more than usual, because I started feeling better once it started warming up," Ortiz said. "In Spring Training I was fine, I wasn't getting that sore."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.