Ortiz's back 'fine' heading into Dodgers series

Ortiz's back 'fine' heading into Dodgers series
August 23, 2013, 9:15 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

LOS ANGELES -- On the Red Sox' off-day Thursday, controversy over David Ortiz's comments about Ryan Dempster heated up, but his back calmed down, allowing him to be in the lineup Friday in the opener of the interleague series with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ortiz came out of Wednesday afternoon's game in San Francisco in the fifth inning with a sore lower back. He underwent treatment and got some rest Thursday.

"It's fine,'' said Ortiz. "I'll be out there throwing some leather. I think I will (be able to play at least two of the three games).'' 

"He's good to go and in the lineup tonight,'' said manager John Farrell. "We'll go day-to-day.'' 

Mike Napoli, who's been battling plantar fasciitis, is available and Farrell said it was likely that he'd use Napoli as a defensive replacement in the late innings for Ortiz in the series.

"It's a situation he's managing,'' said Farrell of Napoli's injury. "After he re-aggravated on that last double that he hit, he needed a couple of days to get over it. It's calmed down, so he's unrestricted at this point.'' 

Clay Buchholz threw a bullpen Friday afternoon, and will fly back to Boston Saturday and make a rehab assignment Sunday for Lowell against Hudson Valley in a New York-Penn League game.

Ryan Dempster, who is serving the third game of the five-game suspension handed down to him for hitting Alex Rodriguez, was at the ballpark early to get some work in. He will throw a bullpen Saturday morning to stay sharp. 

Meanwhile, Matt Thornton, who's been on the DL for nearly three weeks after suffering a pull oblique almost three weeks ago, threw a simulated game on the Dodger Stadium mound Friday afternoon, facing a handful of teammates.

"We'll check him (Saturday),'' said Farrell, "and we could possibly go one of two ways -- it could possibly be an activation for Sunday or, if we determine that he needs another time on the mound, we'll (do that). The most important thing is just to check that there's no soreness after today's session.

"But he threw the ball very good today.''

The return of Thornton will give the Red Sox four lefties in the bullpen as Thornton joins Franklin Morales, Craig Breslow and Drake Britton.

Presumably, the Sox will return Brayan Villarreal to Pawtucket to make room for Thornton.

Xander Bogaerts remained out of the starting lineup for the third time in four games since joining the team. 

Farrell said it's tough to get Bogaerts into the lineup given the way third baseman Will Middlebrooks and shortstop Stephen Drew have hit lately.

Middlebrooks is hitting .441 (15-for-34) with three doubles and two homers and seven RBI in the 11 games he's played since being recalled Aug. 10. Drew, meanwhile, is hitting .305 over his last 25 games.

"Xander understands the situation,'' said Farrell. "We're all aware of Xander's presence here. But at the same time, we can't look past the production of the left side of the infield and right now, it's been pretty darn good.'' 

The Sox face lefties Saturday (Hyun-Jin Ryu) and Sunday (Chris Capuano) making it likely that Bogaerts will play short over Drew in one of those two games.