ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- When David Ortiz dressed gingerly Thursday afternoon and faced a three-hour plane ride from Toronto to Tampa that night, it seemed a longshot that he would be back in the lineup Friday night.
But not long after the Red Sox team charter landed in Florida, Ortiz told manager John Farrell to not count him out of the series opener with the Rays. And after getting some treatment from the training staff and taking some swings in the cage, Ortiz told Farrell was ready to go.
"He didn't experience any increased symptoms on the plane ride or any further stiffness,'' said Farrell. "I think with the check-swing (in the ninth inning Thursday afternoon, aggravating a spasm that he first felt Wednesday night), he just kind of caught himself a little bit.''
Ortiz's presence sets up the anticipation of a rematch with Tampa starter David Price, who hit Ortiz with a pitch on May 31 at Fenway, precipitating a bench-clearing incident between the teams, and later, a suspension for Red Sox pitcher Brandon Workman, who threw behind Evan Longoria in retaliation.
Price and Ortiz then exchanged words through the media after the game, continuing some ill will that first developed last October in the Division Series when Ortiz homered twice off Price in Game 2 and angered the pitcher for admiring the homers.
Farrell said he hadn't heard anything in the way of a warming from Major League Baseball prior to the series opener.
"We haven't heard anything,'' said Farrell, "and I don't anticipate anything.''
Ortiz comes into the game on a hot streak, having hit four homers in the first three games of the team's series in Toronto.