PAWTUCKET, R.I. — When it comes to running the bases, David Ortiz never will be confused with Rickey Henderson.
But the fact Ortiz was able to run the bases freely was the best news the Red Sox could expect after his first rehab game with the Pawtucket Red Sox Thursday night.
It may have overshadowed his performance at the plate, even though he was 2 for 3 with one run and one RBI in Pawtucket’s 5-4 victory over the Rochester Red Wings.
Ortiz, of course, suffered an Achilles’ tendon injury last July 16, and played only one more game the remainder of the season.
“I feel fine,’’ he said. “That’s the important thing to be able to run around the bases and be able to move around and be able to do that with freedom, without hesitation.’’
What Ortiz referred to was underscored in the fifth inning when he went from first to third on an RBI double by Mark Hamilton, which proved to be a key hit in the win.
“The couple of days I played in Florida went well,’’ Ortiz said. “Basically, there wasn’t any hesitation when I was running the bases.
“I felt all right. I got to see some action on the bases and it was some run.’’
In Ortiz’s first at-bat, righthander Kyle Gibson (Minnesota’s No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft) got ahead, 0-2, on fastballs and then missed the zone on his next two pitches. But Gibson induced Ortiz to wave at an offspeed pitch for strike three.
Ortiz next stepped to the plate with two outs in the third, after Jose Iglesias hit a two-run homer, and lined a first-pitch single to center.
While Ortiz didn’t scald the ball in the fifth, he did hit a bouncer up the middle for an RBI single, and eventually scored from third base on a Drew Sutton single.
Before the game, Ortiz expressed concern about the pitching he’ll face in Triple A as opposed to what he saw in extended spring training.
“That’s another thing I’m concerned about,’’ Ortiz said, referring to the fact he’s facing more experienced pitchers now.
“That’s why we have a long spring training to make sure you get ready to play in a major league baseball game.
“That’s another area that I want to make sure I cover some ground. But I want to make sure my foot is doing well. Then, I want to be able to go back and help the ball club.’’
Initially, Ortiz was scheduled to play the full game, but he was removed after the sixth inning because of the cold weather.
“It was getting cold out there and I was getting a little sore, but it was a good sore,’’ he said.
“I ran a lot today and because I’m going to play a lot of games here I didn’t want to take any chances. Now, I’ll get ready for tomorrow.’’
Ortiz is scheduled to get between 25 and 30 at-bats during Pawtucket’s homestand, which began Thursday and ends Thursday.
Barring injury, the only thing that could factor in the number of games he plays at Pawtucket is weather.
Ortiz didn’t make it a secret that he hopes to be playing with Boston by the end of next week.
“I’m looking forward to going there and playing every day,’’ he said. “I’ll take one day off every once in a while, but my goal is to go up and do what I normally do.’’
What Ortiz did last season was hit .318 with 23 home runs, 60 RBIs, a .611 slugging percentage and a 1.026 OPS in 90 games.