BOSTON -- Red Sox slugger David Ortiz jump-started Wednesday night's walk-off rally with a single to short right field. But that was the only kind of jumping he was capable of. As Ortiz got to first base, he was obviously hobbling on that right knee that has given him such trouble the past couple of years.
Ortiz looked to Red Sox manager Terry Francona as if he was hoping for a pinch-runner, and eventually got one once he reached second base on Manny Ramirez's walk.
Ortiz was gimpy enough where it was reasonable to suspect that he might not be in Francona's lineup for Thursday's finale of this three-game series against the Blue Jays. But there he was, batting third and DH-ing.
Why not a night off?
"When I get a day off because of pain, it's because I'm dying," said Ortiz.
In other words, Ortiz must have been in some severe agony when he was out of the lineup on Saturday and Sunday at Tropicana Field.
"I was, I was," said Ortiz.
Ortiz had surgery on his right knee in November and was going through the normal progression of recovery, at least until Friday. It was then that Ortiz tried to beat out an infield hit by making a headfirst dive into first base. He landed right on his knee and has been hurting ever since.
Francona conferred with Ortiz before putting him in Thursday's lineup.
"He's OK," Francona said. "He's a little sore. He's OK to play or we wouldn't play him. We checked and we've stayed in touch with everybody throughout the day, and he's OK to go."
That turned out to be a good thing, as injuries to J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury have already left the Sox with a two-man bench the last couple of days.
The good news is that Ortiz is starting to hit with his familiar thump. He has homered three times in the last five days. As for the knee recovery, that is something that will be ongoing.
"He had his surgery, and he's a big guy and he's not 22 years old," Francona said. "I think that's just the way life is as you start to progress into your career. Sometimes we need to give a guy a day off, and from his side of it, and he knows this, he has to get on the elliptical, he can't just come play the game. He doesn't have that freedom anymore, and he knows that. He does a pretty good job of that. And he will continue to."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.