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David Ortiz returns to batting cage

Posted by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff  March 19, 2013 05:00 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz took 50 swings in the batting cage Tuesday, his first baseball activity after a nine-day layoff because of inflammation in his right heel.

Stephen Drew reported improvement in his concussion symptoms but is still on his way to Pittsburgh to be examined by a specialist.

Also:

• Sox starter Ryan Dempster had allowed three earned runs over 12 2/3 innings coming into Tuesday's game. But he gave up that many in the third inning against the Orioles, who had four consecutive hits.

Dempster shrugged it off, pointing to the fact that he threw 73 pitches and is set to get to 95 in his next start. He also has been throwing his secondary pitches for strikes.

Dempster said once he gets his slider under control, he will be ready for the season.

“It’s good to get an inning like that and get extended and see how you bounce back,” Dempster said. “Because you’re going to get some innings like that during the season.”

• Red Sox catchers have thrown out 10 of 22 base stealers this spring. The latest came when Ryan Lavarnway nabbed Lew Ford.

• Jackie Bradley Jr., who will face the Yankees Wednesday, was 1 for 2 and is hitting .439.

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