PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- After an MRI showed inflammation in David Ortiz's right heel, the Red Sox opted to shut the slugger down for the next few days, greatly lessening the chance he will be in the lineup on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium.
"I mean, we're three weeks away," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "He's going to need at-bats [in Spring Training]. We're not forgoing Opening Day right now, but we're starting to get into an area where [it's in danger]. Depending on how many days we need to shut him down, that's going to have a direct effect, a direct bearing on where we are come Opening day."
Farrell estimated that Ortiz will be shut down for five to seven days.
In other words, Ortiz will have to ramp back up in his running program and pass several tests before being cleared to play in a Grapefruit League game.
Ortiz injured his right Achilles tendon on July 16 while running from first to second on a home run by teammate Adrian Gonzalez. He returned to action on Aug. 24, but re-injured himself that night and hasn't played since.
After a winter of rest and rehab, Ortiz hoped that the Achilles would respond favorably so he could have enough time to be ready for the start of the season.
But that now seems unlikely, if not impossible.
Ortiz underwent an MRI on Saturday for both heels. The results were read by a radiologist in Boston and revealed inflammation in the right heel, but not in the tendon where Ortiz suffered the initial injury. He has also experienced soreness in his left heel.
"It's separate from any kind of previous issues that he dealt with. It's in the bone-tendon juncture where he's feeling the inflammation and the MRI shows it in that specific area," said Farrell.
Ortiz declined comment to reporters on Sunday at JetBlue Park, preferring that Farrell give the update on his MRI report.
The Red Sox had hoped Ortiz was in the home stretch of his recovery last week when they put a baserunning program in motion for him. But after having a fairly intensive day running the bases on Monday, Ortiz was limited on Tuesday due to soreness and then had an off-day on Wednesday. He ran briefly on Thursday, but was again shut down on Friday.
Prophetically, Farrell had said last week that the Red Sox would get a far better idea of where Ortiz was at once he tried to run on consecutive days.
The Red Sox got their answer, it just wasn't the one for which Oritz and the club had been hoping.
"Once baseball activities got ramped up, the volume starts to pick up, the intensity increases," Farrell said. "We felt like there was going to be some physical effects that would have to be dealt with. The bigger picture is, he's improved over a year ago and progress continues to be made, yet we're at a little bit of a bump in the road here."
At this point, the Red Sox don't believe Ortiz has developed a serious injury. They are hopeful that all he needs is a little more time.
"Well, he was feeling it in the right heel because of, obviously the [initial] injury," Farrell said. "Again, compared to where he was a year ago, as we mentioned yesterday, we feel like there's progress being made. There's no question about that. Yet, he's dealing with an issue and we've got to give it time to clear up."
A fierce competitor, Ortiz has seemed almost despondent at times this spring when talking about his injury. But Farrell hopes the slugger can take the positive out of the MRI results.
"I think any time we can give some assurance that there's no re-injury, there's no further damage of any kind, that's got to give some peace of mind," Farrell said. "Yet the frustration exists because of not being on the field."
In the coming days, Farrell will probably start to review options when it comes to replacing Ortiz's bat during the early part of the regular season.