BoSox confident 2-3 weeks in cast will lead to Ortiz's return

BOSTON -- The long black cast stretched from the middle of
David Ortiz's left biceps to just above his knuckles.

Doctors are optimistic that when it comes off in about two to three weeks, the injury to his left wrist should be healed and he can begin working his way back into the Red Sox lineup.

Boston's home run and RBI leader suffered a partial tear of the sheath that surrounds his tendon while swinging Saturday night at Baltimore. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday.

"The integrity of the tendon hasn't been comprised at all," general manager Theo Epstein said before Tuesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays. "So that's why the doctors are pretty confident that if it's immobilized in this hard cast for a period of time that there's a pretty significant chance that it'll heal itself in that time period."

Manny Ramirez filled Ortiz's role as designated hitter and
Jacoby Ellsbury took over Ramirez's spot in left field against the Rays.

Manager Terry Francona has said surgery is "very unlikely."

But if he has an operation, Ortiz said, he'd probably miss the rest of the season.

"Hopefully not," he said. "That would be too much for me to take."

Ortiz went on the disabled list, retroactive to Sunday, for the first time since he joined the Red Sox before the 2003 season. The Red Sox called up right-hander Justin Masterson, who started Tuesday night, and outfielder Chris Carter from Triple-A Pawtucket and optioned outfielder Jeff Bailey to Pawtucket.

Ortiz was hurt in the ninth inning of Boston's 6-3 win over the Orioles and left with a 3-and-2 count.

"The doctor says 70 to 80 percent of the people that have this, when they get a cast, it normally goes back [to normal]," Ortiz said. "I have clicking when I move my hand. If the pain goes away, that's the main key.

"If the pain goes away and I still have the clicking, then I can probably play through it and maybe fix it after the season. Otherwise, if I still have the pain, I'm going to be out."

Ortiz is batting .252 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs in 54 games after a very slow start. Last season, he hit .332 with 35 homers and 117 RBIs despite playing with a knee injury that required offseason arthroscopic surgery in which damaged cartilage was removed.

He didn't have any problem with his left wrist until he hurt it Saturday night, Ortiz said.

"I swing 1,000 times like that," he said. "It's weird, just a normal swing. It wasn't even a check swing."

Francona and trainer Paul Lessard came out of the dugout and talked with Ortiz at home plate before he was removed from the game.

"I knew it was bad because I'm not the kind of guy who comes out of the game that easy," Ortiz said. "I'm not used to it. That's the thing. I don't know what to do when I'm not playing."

With Ortiz sidelined, first baseman Kevin Youkilis batted in his third spot in the lineup. Francona said Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew also could be used there -- until Ortiz returns.

If the pain and tenderness are gone from the wrist "when he gets out of the cast," Epstein said, "then it will have resolved itself and he can start a progression" toward getting back in the lineup.