Notes: Ortiz likely out until Wednesday
Star slugger's ailing left shoulder swollen, filled with fluid
BOSTON -- Ortiz Watch extended into Sunday, and will likely continue through at least two games of the Red Sox's upcoming trip to Cleveland.
A day after his MRI revealed no significant structural damage to his strained left shoulder, Boston designated hitter David Ortiz still felt sore.
"It's not bad, though," Ortiz said, while adding that the joint had swollen with fluid. "I've been doing things with the trainer ever since [the MRI]. It's fine. I feel better today. It might take me a couple more days to be better than what I feel."
Ortiz estimated that he likely will not return until Wednesday, the third game of the Cleveland series.
"I need to get my whole flexibility back. When I get to the point when I raise my elbow up and I don't have that pain right here," he said, pointing to the top of his shoulder, "I'll be ready to go."
Ortiz jammed the joint on a slide into second on Friday. He didn't feel the pain until he returned to the clubhouse to watch video of his previous at-bat. When the adrenaline from his sliding play subsided, Ortiz felt tension in his shoulder.
"It's like, what's going on, you know?" Ortiz said. "And then, like 20 minutes later, then I started feeling it more, and more, and more, and that's when I told the trainer."
Ortiz played through shoulder pain after an ugly home-plate collision in 2004. This time, he said, the injury is "not even close." It's his back hitting shoulder this time, rather than his dominant right shoulder -- although the type of injury is similar. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said he won't risk aggravating Ortiz's strain by playing him.
"It just doesn't help," Francona said. "It's so hard to use patience because he's so good, but it doesn't help in the long run."
Francona might not feel pressure to start Ortiz because the Boston offense has exploded since his injury.
"Bad luck, man," Ortiz laughed.
Schilling return? A day after erstwhile Red Sox ace Curt Schilling drew rave reviews with his three-inning rehab start at Triple-A Pawtucket, Francona painted Schilling's attitude in a welcome and familiar light.
"Talkative," responded Francona, when asked how Schilling felt.
Moments after Saturday's game, in which he struck out six Louisville Bats and allowed no runs, Schilling left a long message on Francona's phone. Reports indicated that his fastball, which had been running in the low- to mid-80s mph in June, had crept up to 93, even 94 mph after rehab.
"We're hoping he can come back and kind of pitch with a vengeance," Francona said. "Which would be terrific for anybody that cares about the Red Sox."
A return to normalcy: Manny Ramirez returned to the cleanup spot after hitting third in Ortiz's absence on Saturday.
"Manny was all excited about hitting third yesterday," Francona said. "He didn't get a hit, so he wants it right back at fourth. That's the extent of that baseball genius."
Pulling out the stops: Bench regulars Alex Cora, Eric Hinske and Doug Mirabelli all earned starts on Sunday. Mirabelli normally catches knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, and Hinske has run hot in Ortiz's place. He also owns a .370 career batting average against Chicago starter Jon Garland.
Cora, on the other hand, has been left wanting for at-bats since Julio Lugo's furious comeback and Dustin Pedroia's continued development as a top hitter. Francona said he preferred not to wait until a Pedroia cold spell to give his starting second baseman a break from the day-to-day grind.
"I think you can make mistakes by leaving guys out there," Francona said. "And then, you know, you wait for them to cool off ... Well, then, when Pedroia weighs 130 pounds, I'll be kicking myself.
"There's nothing wrong with letting [Cora] play a day," he added. "And then, when [the White Sox] want to bring in [left-hander] Boone Logan, Pedroia can come out and get a hit. I think that works better than waiting for something to go wrong."
On deck: It may come as a surprise, if not an unwelcome one, to Red Sox fans. On Monday in Cleveland, lefty Jon Lester will make his long-awaited return to the big leagues. Lester missed the final month of 2006 and the offseason battling anaplastic large cell lymphoma, a treatable form of cancer. He will start against the Indians' Jake Westrbook at Jacobs Field at 7:05 p.m. ET in place of Julian Tavarez, who returns to the bullpen after three and a half months in the starting rotation. Boston plans to announce a roster move after Sunday's game.
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.