FORT MYERS, Fla. — David Ortiz graduated to soft toss on Wednesday, taking 50 swings at balls flipped to him by coaching staff assistant Ino Guerrero.
Head athletic trainer Rick Jameyson and physical therapist Dan Dyrek were on hand to monitor Ortiz, who on Tuesday took 50 swings at balls on a tee. Jim Rice watched, too.
Ortiz looked to be cutting loose with his swings and left the batting cage walking normally. The Red Sox are in the process of building Ortiz back up after a nine-day layoff because of inflammation in his heels, a residual of the Achilles tendon injury he had last season.
Ortiz will eventually get to batting practice on the field and then running the bases, which was when his last setback occurred. If he is able to run the bases, Ortiz would then play in his first game this spring.
Based on his recent progress there is at least a small chance chance Ortiz will play in a game before the Sox break camp on March 30. It is likely he will need 30-50 plate appearances before he is ready to rejoin the Red Sox. Those could come in extended spring training and/or minor league games.