Notes: Papi might return on Tuesday

Notes: Papi might return on Tuesday

BOSTON -- As he walked down the first-base line and sauntered toward the home plate area, bat in hand, sweatband around his head, David Ortiz had a smile that seemed to light up Fenway Park.

The event? His first round of batting practice since being hospitalized for two days last week.

The big man with the big swing stepped into the cage at 5:13 p.m. ET on Monday and began his quest to get back into the lineup. It is Ortiz's hope that Red Sox medical director Dr. Thomas Gill will clear him to be back in there for Tuesday night's game against the White Sox. Ortiz was in the hospital so doctors could try to determine why he had heart palpitations twice in a 10-day period in late August.

"I feel good, I'm going to be out there working out today, doing hitting and all my stuff," said Ortiz. "If everything goes well, maybe I'll be in there tomorrow, hopefully. I can't wait to start playing, dude."

And after taking his hacks, sending a few balls into the cheap seats in the process, Ortiz -- who last played on Aug. 27 -- felt game-ready.

"Everything is good. I think everybody was missing me out there," he said.

Everyone in the vicinity of home plate seemed to have a hug for Big Papi, a list that included White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and slugger Jim Thome, as well as Red Sox president/CEO Larry Lucchino and several Red Sox teammates.

"He's a guy who's easy to get along with," said third baseman Mike Lowell. "He makes things fun. He doesn't shy away from people. A lot of people don't like the attention, but I think he likes it, and he embraces it, and I think that's why we all love him so much."

And as much as the Red Sox can't wait to get Ortiz back, manager Terry Francona knows that nothing will happen until Gill provides medical clearance. Tuesday would be nice, and the manager was hoping for it, but not banking on it.

"He's got to get the OK [on Tuesday]," Francona said. "I think ... the medical people are going to be with him [at noon]. ... I think they want to read some of the information or something, but if they give him the OK, he'll be ready to go."

Ortiz lobbied Francona to let him pinch-hit in Monday's nail-biter, which wound up a 3-2 win in 10 innings, but to no avail.

"He was trying, yeah, he was trying," Francona said. "He's a pain in the neck. I mean, I love the fact that he wanted to. If he gets the go-ahead tomorrow, we'll let him do more than that."

Ortiz was released from Massachusetts General Hospital on Thursday after a thorough round of tests didn't find anything wrong with his heart. He has been wearing a monitor periodically during his return, in case his symptoms come back.

"I don't have to use it at all," Ortiz said of the monitor. "They keep it on me just to see if I get that pain back or whatever, but it seems like that one little pain that I have went on vacation, just like I did."

Now, Ortiz hopes that his vacation can end and he can resume bashing baseballs out of Fenway in the hours after batting practice.

Papelbon's MRI postponed: For a variety of reasons, closer Jonathan Papelbon had the MRI for his right shoulder postponed until Tuesday morning. Originally, Papelbon was supposed to be examined on Monday, but the logistics wouldn't have been ideal on Labor Day.

"Today is a holiday for most normal people. This will work out better tomorrow," Francona said. "[To] get done what needs to get done and get the proper people involved, we'll wait till tomorrow."

Papelbon also mentioned that giving another day for the swelling to subside would give doctors a clearer read on what is ailing his arm.

"It's just swelling," said Papelbon. "Your body blows up inside to protect itself, so they want some of that to go down. I feel a little bit better, a little bit more serene. You just try to think everything is good. Hopefully, tomorrow we'll see what happens and go from there. Just try to stay positive. Like I said earlier, they just wanted the swelling to go down so they could get a better reading."

Francona is hoping that Papelbon needs nothing more than rest.

"Needless to say, we're going to find out what's going on, or hopefully, what's not going on," said Francona.

Schilling still sore: Ace Curt Schilling missed Monday's start against the White Sox because of a strained lat muscle, and it didn't seem likely that he'd be able to return for Saturday's turn against the Royals.

"I don't think we said that, but I don't think it's looking very encouraging," Francona said.

Schilling still doesn't feel well enough to play catch, let alone make a side session.

On a more positive note, the Red Sox honored Schilling before the game for becoming the 14th pitcher in Major League history to strike out 3,000 batters in his career.

Three of the most distinguished members of the club -- Roger Clemens, Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson -- congratulated Schilling in a video presentation that was displayed on the scoreboard in center field.

A banner was unfurled over the Green Monster that listed all 14 members of the 3,000-strikeout club. Schilling's wife, Shonda, and four children joined the big righty for the presentation.

Youk back up top, Coco rests: One of the benefits of having so many players back in the lineup for Monday's game was that Francona could rest center fielder Coco Crisp, who played the last four games with a sore left shoulder that he injured last week in Oakland on a diving catch.

"He played for about a week when I really didn't think he should have," Francona said. "We didn't really have any bodies. Now that we do have a couple of bodies, it will be nice to kind of give him a night where he can regroup a little bit. I think you saw him the last couple of days bunting more frequently. I don't think that's out of them playing back. He's pretty sore. This will do him some good."

With Manny Ramirez, Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek bringing some thump back to the middle of the lineup, Kevin Youkilis was able to return to the leadoff spot, where he has flourished this season. The Red Sox are 49-35 when Youkilis leads off and 24-29 when he doesn't.

Youkilis ended up leaving the game in the eighth inning after being hit on the left hand by a pitch.

"He fouled three balls off both his feet, then he got hit in the hand," Francona said. "I think he's OK."

Lopez returns again: Left-handed specialist Javier Lopez -- not to be confused with backup catcher Javy Lopez -- joined the roster for the fourth time this season, as he was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket.

Lopez ended up getting four big outs for the Sox in this one, helping to set the stage for the drama of the late innings.

The PawSox played their last game on Monday, so the Red Sox might have some additional callups before Tuesday's game. One of them will be left-hander Kason Gabbard, who starts for Boston on Tuesday night.

Coming up: Gabbard (0-3, 6.35 ERA) will face right-hander Javier Vazquez (11-8, 4.98) in the middle game of this three-game set on Tuesday. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET.

Ian Browne is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.