Papi ready to go

David Ortiz is back in the lineup tonight at designated hitter, batting in his familiar third spot.

Ortiz, who has gone 144 at-bats this season without a home run, would not address the media in the Red Sox clubhouse, politely declining to speak. “Wait until I get hot,” he said.

Manager Terry Francona said missing the three-game series in Seattle hopefully did Ortiz, who went 0 for 7 and left 12 on base in his last game Thursday in Anaheim, Calif., some good.

“It kind of went the way we thought it would,” Francona said. “The first day looked like he didn’t sleep much. I think he had a lot on his mind and it was beating him up. He came in and worked in the cage. He hit a bunch the second and third day. So he came out of the dugout the last day there and was ready to pinch hit, which was good. And if we had gotten there he would have hit, but as you saw we didn’t get there.

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“So he takes the off day yesterday and today he shows up ready to go. That’s the whole idea. That last day in Anaheim was really tough on him. But he used it to his advantage. He took a day. He’s been hitting in the cage and (hitting coach Dave Magadan) says he looks great. Now he’s got to see results. The greatest thing would be if he got four hits tonight, but if he doesn’t, the best thing we can do is not lose patience. When everybody’s screaming to lose patience, I’m not sure that helps us.”

Francona, asked whether he considered moving Ortiz down in the order, said, “I actually didn’t. If I said I hadn’t thought about the lineup, that’s not true. David and I talked about that. I didn’t want to tell him, ‘Hey, if you keep struggling, I’m gonna drop you in the lineup.’ I don’t want to do that. I think our best lineup is with him hitting third. Saying that, when you’re looking for production … I told him if I ever decide to change that I’ll tell you first. He understood that. The one thing I don’t want to do is [bounce] lineups all over the place.”

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In other Sox news:

  • Francona said John Smoltz will pitch in Augusta (Ga.) on Thursday. “That’s not health-related,” said the manager. “They’re anticipating a huge storm in Florida tommorow. So that clock will start on his (21-day) rehab, and again, we can’t forecast but we’re trying to use a little common sense.”
  • Outfielder Mark Kotsay, also on the DL with a calf injury, did some running before the game. “I think he’s getting pretty close,” Francona said.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka will pitch Friday vs. the Mets.

    “I spoke to (Justin) Masterson and he will go back to the bullpen and that probably wouldn’t be for a few days so I think everybody knows where they are going,” Francona said.

  • Kevin Youkilis will be activated tomorrow.

    “Youk got through the day today and unless something happens overnight, he’ll be activated tomorrow. He didn’t get any hits [at Pawtucket] but I asked him if he’d like to go to Double A so he’d get some hits,” Francona quipped.

  • Jed Lowrie spent the week at Fenway when the team was on the road doing some work on his wrist, on which he underwent surgery.

    “Jed went down to the cage earlier and was taking some dry swings, T-work, and one-handed hitting. He’s doing a throwing motion with a glove on. When we go on the next road trip I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes with us. If he’s far enough along we’ll have him with us,” said Francona, meaning that Lowrie would work out with the team. He’s not expected to be activated until around the All-Star break .

  • Francona also said Julio Lugo’s groin condition had improved and he was back in the lineup.
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