Ortiz could return as early as Friday

BOSTON -- If everything goes according to plan, the Boston Red Sox could have designated hitter David Ortiz (Achilles strain) back in the lineup against the Kansas City Royals on Friday night at Fenway Park.

He participated in running drills Thursday. He ran the bases and showed no ill effects during his workout. He spent more than 30 minutes in the indoor batting cage before taking normal BP on the field with his teammates.

If he feels normal when he wakes up Friday morning, then he'll likely be activated. He's been on the DL since July 17. He's missed a total of 34 games and the Red Sox are 13-21 in his absence entering Thursday night's game versus the Angels.

"I feel OK," he said. "I'm not ready, ready, but I think I can play like this. Hopefully I will continue improving."

He's not completely pain-free.

"I'm not there yet, but I'm getting closer," he said. It's better. It's not like it used to be. It's not painful. But not until I stop doing things, I'm not going to be back to normal, so hopefully it doesn't get worse."

Ortiz is hitting .316 with 23 homers and 58 RBIs in 89 games.