Ortiz returns to Red Sox lineup

Ortiz returns to Red Sox lineup

BOSTON -- After all but begging to play since Saturday, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was finally granted his wish by the team's medical staff. The designated hitter, after an eight-game hiatus, was back in the No. 3 spot in the lineup, in front of fellow masher Manny Ramirez, for Tuesday's game against the White Sox at Fenway Park.

It was Ortiz's first game since Aug. 27 in Seattle. Just prior to game time the next night in Oakland, Ortiz was sent back to Boston when he experienced heart palpitations for the second time in 10 days.

Ortiz went 0-for-3 and drew a walk, receiving a long and loud ovation from the Fenway faithful in what ended up a 1-0 win for the Red Sox.

"I was thrilled," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "You kind of knew coming in that's how the fans would react, because of what David has meant to everybody here. Sometimes, I thought fastballs got by him that don't normally get by him, but that will change."

Ortiz spent two nights last week in Massachusetts General Hospital, where he underwent several tests to determine if there were any abnormalities in his heart. When none could be found, he was released, and monitored on an outpatient basis over the last few days.

Red Sox medical director Dr. Thomas Gill released the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:

"The ongoing monitoring of David Ortiz has not identified any further problem. As a result, the team of consultants caring for David has met and decided to allow him to return to play today. The Red Sox medical staff will continue to monitor David on a daily basis."

That was just the news Ortiz had been looking for.

"I'm happy to be back, go back to playing," Ortiz said. "You go a little crazy when you watch the game on TV. But I'm happy to be back."

It was a pleasure for Francona to post a lineup card with Ortiz's name on it.

"You know what, it's obviously, baseball-wise, it's great for us," Francona said. "I'm glad he was cleared, because I was worried about him. It's pretty obvious how much we care about him. He can go out there now and be himself, 0-for-4, 4-for-4, home runs, outs, frustrations, he can let it out and not worry.

"His family doesn't have to worry. I think [not playing] was a hard thing for him to do. I think it was really a very easy decision to do the right thing. But it wasn't a fun one. But I think we did the right thing."

The Red Sox now have their full complement of everyday players together for the first time since late July. In recent days, Ramirez, Trot Nixon, Jason Varitek, Alex Gonzalez and Wily Mo Pena have all returned from extended absences. Ortiz now joins the mix, giving the offense a fighting chance to keep the team in games while the pitching staff -- currently without the services of Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, Matt Clement and Jon Lester -- is depleted.

Ortiz is going to do his best to resist the urge of trying to lift the team on his shoulders.

"Sometimes, when you come back like this in a situation like this, you try to overdo things," said Ortiz. "And it doesn't work that way. But hopefully everybody does what they're supposed to do and we keep on winning."

Ortiz, who has clubbed 47 homers and driven in 121 runs this season, was missed for reasons that extend beyond his big bat.

"It's his demeanor," said Francona. "It's his playfulness, until he sets foot in that batter's box and he's a serious, grown man. Yeah, I miss that. He has a presence about him, sure."

Though the Red Sox trail the Twins by six games in the Wild Card standings and the Yankees by eight games in the American League East with 23 games left, Ortiz is looking forward to the quest of helping his team try to get back in contention.

"We'll try to go back and try to turn the page, see if we can win games and see what happens," said Ortiz. "We have time left still."

The medical staff never stated publicly why Ortiz might have been having some of the symptoms -- stress, dehydration, rapid heartbeat -- that placed him in the hospital.

Last Friday, a day after Ortiz was released from the hospital, the Red Sox, on behalf of Gill, released the following information about his medical treatment: "David's physical examination was normal. The following imaging and functional tests were performed: basic laboratories, electrocardiogram, heart monitoring, echocardiogram, signal averaged electrocardiogram, stress testing, and magnetic resonance imaging. The heart consultants extensively reviewed these tests. In brief, David's testing was unremarkable or normal except for changes commonly found in well-trained athletes."

Ortiz was asked if he had any lingering concerns about his health.

"No, because I feel good," said Ortiz. "Things happen. But like I said before, the most important thing is that it's not related to anything going on with my heart. Anybody can pull a muscle any time. You can be a little concerned about that. But everything's fine right now. That's the most important thing."

Could it have been something as simple as a pulled muscle courtesy of one of Ortiz's vicious swings that led to the heart palpitations? Ortiz didn't rule it out.

"I guess. I don't know. I'm not sure," said Ortiz. "But the first time it happened, I never got rid of it. Now, I don't feel it and I haven't been feeling it in a long time. So I think everything will be fine."

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