5/23/2013 1:27 A.M. ET
Papi gears up for first reunion with Tito
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- While the rest of the Red Sox faced manager Terry Francona's Indians in Cleveland from April 16-18, David Ortiz was still in the final stages of a Minor League rehab assignment.
Thursday, he will play against the man who managed him for eight memorable seasons, two of which ended with a World Series championship.
Considering the fondness Red Sox fans still hold for Francona -- and vice versa -- it should be a night packed with emotion.
"I mean, yeah, definitely going to bring memories back," said Ortiz. "I was with Tito for eight years. He's a good dude. He did a lot of good things. I learned a lot of things from him. It's going to be a little weird just watching him from the other side. It is what it is, right?"
Last season, Ortiz began to adapt to life after Tito.
"It was weird watching him on ESPN at the beginning until you get used to it," Ortiz said. "So now you watch him on the other side and it will feel weird for a couple of series. At some point, it will be pretty normal."
The Indians will come to Boston as one of the hottest teams in the Majors. Entering action on Wednesday, they had won 13 out of 18.
"They're playing exceptionally well," said Farrell. "They're playing with a lot of confidence. He has a lot to do with that. They've got a very good team."
One of Francona's go-to phrases as a manager is to "stay in the moment and just try to win that day." However, given his history in Boston, Francona knows there will at least be a moment or two when his emotions are tested.
"I'm sure I'll have a lot of emotions," Francona said. "This game is tough enough to play and I don't want our guys having extra baggage during that series. I need to be very cognizant of that, that whatever feelings I'm having, I'll deal with them. Like I said, it's hard enough to play this game."
Ellsbury enjoys first multi-hit night since May 4
CHICAGO -- When things are going well for Jacoby Ellsbury, a two-hit, two-walk night is hardly news. But the fact that such a performance on Wednesday drew a crowd around his locker is an indication that the center fielder has been in a pretty good slump.
Perhaps Boston's center fielder is ready to snap out of it.
After reaching base twice on Tuesday, Ellsbury went 2-for-3 with two walks in Wednesday's 6-2 win over the White Sox.
"I feel like I've been having some pretty good ABs," Ellsbury said. "Fortunately tonight, found some grass in the outfield. I've had quite a few of those same swings on balls, just haven't gotten out there. It's just sticking with the plan. You talk about that, but having a good approach, if you have a good approach, good plan, it's a matter of time before good things happen."
It was his first multi-hit game since May 4.
"Well, it feels good," Ellsbury said. "It's the same approach that I've had, same game plan. Everything's pretty much the same. It's just nice to get on base and create havoc and score a run tonight."
For the season, Ellsbury is hitting .249. But Ellsbury is a veteran and knows that all players have peaks and valleys throughout the course of a season.
"I think all of us in this room have played the game long enough," Ellsbury said. "You've just got to stick with the plan, stick with the approach. If you have a good one, stay with it. That's the mentality I'm going to continue to have -- stick with the plan and good things will happen."
Victorino shows improvement, still not ready to play
CHICAGO -- Though Shane Victorino did not return to Boston's lineup on Wednesday, it appeared more likely than 24 hours earlier that he'd be able to avoid a trip to the disabled list.
"He's improved today," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's going to do some running on the treadmill. There's increased looseness in the hamstring but [he's] still unavailable tonight."
The fact that Victorino showed improvement just two days after the injury is a good sign.
"Today was a big day as far as his status and improvement that he's showing. Our plan was to kind of re-evaluate where he's at tomorrow and go from there," Farrell said.
Once Victorino consults with the team's medical staff back at Fenway Park on Thursday, the club should have a better idea of the severity of the injury.
"And we're hopeful we can avoid [the DL]," said Farrell. "Still, he is day to day, but nothing definitive has been decided either way."
Daniel Nava again made the start in right field and batted sixth against the White Sox. Jonny Gomes occupied Victorino's No. 2 spot in the batting order and played left.
Ross set to catch Morales in Portland
CHICAGO -- The Red Sox will have a full battery at Double-A Portland for Thursday's 11 a.m. ET game, when David Ross catches left-hander Franklin Morales.
Ross is returning from a concussion that he sustained on May 11, and this should be his only rehab game before being activated by the Red Sox, most likely on Friday.
Morales, who has had a hard time getting started this season, finally appears to be in the home stretch of being activated.
The lefty is being stretched out as a starter and will get up to five innings and 80 pitches in this start.
Manager John Farrell said the club hasn't decided definitively how Morales will be used when he returns.
Dempster ready to go after high-stress outing
CHICAGO -- In Ryan Dempster's last start, he threw 127 pitches over just 4 2/3 innings. But the right-hander keeps himself in great condition and manager John Farrell doesn't think it will be an issue when Dempster takes the ball on Thursday night against the Indians.
Will there be any restrictions on Dempster?
"Hopefully not," Farrell said. "The game is going to unfold and is going to dictate some of that. He did travel out early today just because of our late arrival tonight. Talking with him, as far as how his arm felt coming out of his last start, he didn't feel like there was any change or lingering effect from the pitches he did throw."
Dempster did take it a little easier than normal between starts.
"Yeah, that was adjusted as he's felt through his experiences, just to kind of back off," Farrell said. "He fully recognizes it was a lot of pitches thrown. He adjusted his workout accordingly."
Instead of a full-fledged side session, Dempster instead threw off of flat ground.