FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Thanks to a strained Achilles, David Ortiz played just five games after the All-Star break in 2012 . . . and just one after July 16. But after rest and rehab over the winter, he believes he'll be in the Opening Day lineup.
"I think it's going to happen,'' Ortiz said Tuesday. "A couple of weeks ago, I started doing drills and it went good. I'm not 100 percent yet but I was pain-free doing it, which is a good sign. Now, the trainers are moving forward with things slowly and tomorrow, we're going to continue doing the drills.
"But the good thing is, I was hitting and it didn't bother me at all hitting. Running and doing some agility drills, at the beginning, I was a little concerned. But later on, I was going after it pretty normal. I didn't have any setbacks. I was surprised myself."
Ortiz said he's received assurances from medical personnel that he won't be at greater risk for further injuries to the Achilles.
"I'm not concerned about it,'' he said. "We did a whole bunch of stuff with the Achilles and when we went back and took an MRI, my Achillies looked pretty normal. Before that, there was a tiny tear there and I was worried about my Achilles snapping, but that's not the case any more. It wasn't my concern once I started doing things. I'm not worried about my Achilles anymore.''
"Everything that they've told me in terms of progress has been happening sooner than what they expected, which is a good thing. We're just moving forward. They just don't want to rush it."
In retrospect, Ortiz now sees that he rushed back in the final week of August. After smacking an RBI double, he re-injured the heel and was done for the season.
"I wasn't ready,'' he said. "I thought I was. I was doing some running and stuff. I knew that I wasn't 100 percent, but I thought I was going to survive for the rest of the season and (instead) things got worse. I was in a lot of pain and I actually put my career to the side to try to come back and help this ballclub that was struggling badly. The doctor told me I could have snapped my Achilles."
Ortiz was enjoying a standout season when he first injured his heel, with an OPS 1.024. Now 38, in the wake of the scandal surrounding the south Florida aging clinic and PEDs, he was asked whether he expects people to doubt the authenticity of his performance.
"When I first heard about players being linked to the clinic," he said. "I started saying that us, as baseball players, we pretty much might be the dumbest athletes of all the sports because there's a history of players doing things like that and later on getting caught. We're talking about six or seven years. So how come in 2011 or 2012, there are players still being caught in the same situation?
"All I can tell you is that I just keep on working hard and I just keep on trying my best. I'm not going to be doing this for the rest of my life. But I think when you work hard, things pay off. I don't care if people keep on doubting the things you do. But as long as your name is not mentioned in a situation like that, I think it's OK.
Over the winter, the Sox signed Ortiz to a two-year, 26 million deal, giving him some security after a series of one-year deals.
"I don't think about that,'' he insisted. "I look at baseball the same way I looked at it the first day I got here. Security is not my problem. My problem is I have to deal with questions at the end of the season and during the off-season, and I think a guy like myself, if I'm part of the heart-and-soul of the lineup, I don't think it was fair to me to be dealing with that kind of stuff for years.
"I do what I have to do. I don't take things for granted. I got what I got because I earned it. If you have a bad year and you don't do what you're supposed to do, you're not getting that. Players that get that are doing what they're supposed to."