By FRED GOODALL
AP Sports Writer
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — David Ortiz will be shut down for several days of spring training because of sore left heel, and the Boston Red Sox are hoping the break from baseball activities won’t prevent the slugging designated hitter from being ready for opening day.
Manager John Farrell made the announcement after Sunday’s 6-2 exhibition victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. He expects Ortiz to be out for five to seven days because of inflammation revealed by MRI tests.
“It’s separate from any kind of previous issues that he dealt with. It’s in the bone-tendon juncture, where he’s feeling the inflammation,” Farrell said.
“As a result, we’re going to shut him down for a few days here to let that quiet down completely before we initiate any kind baseball activities after that,” he said.
The manager stopped short of calling it a setback for the eight-time All-Star, who is still making his way back from a strained right Achilles tendon that limited him to 90 games last season.
“Compared to where he was a year ago, we feel like there’s progress being made. There’s no question about that,” Farrell said. “Yet he’s dealing we an issue, and we’ve got to give it time to clear up.”
MRI tests were performed on both of Ortiz’s heels on Saturday. Farrell is cautiously optimistic that sitting out up to a week affect Ortiz’s status for the start of the regular season.
“We’re three weeks away. He’s going to need at-bats,” the manager said. “We’re not foregoing opening day right now, but we’re starting to get into an area where — depending on how many days we need to shut him down — it’s going to have a direct bearing on where we are come opening day.”
The encouraging news for the Ortiz and the Red Sox is the soreness he’s experienced in both heels is in a boney area — not the Achilles tendon.
“I think any time we can give some assurance that there’s no re-injury, there’s no further damage of any kind, that’s got to give some peace of mind,” Farrell said. “Yet the frustration exists because of not being on the field.”
David Ross hit a three-run homer off Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore, and John Lackey allowed two runs and four hits in 3 2-3 innings to pace Sunday’s victory.
Jeremy Hazelbaker and Pedro Ciriaco also drove in runs for the Red Sox. Yunel Escobar had an RBI infield single and Evan Longoria added a sacrifice fly off Lackey.
Meanwhile, Rays owner Stuart Sternberg arrived in camp and commented on several topics, including David Price’s future, sagging attendance and his expectations for the upcoming season.
“I feel really good,” Sternberg said about several offseason moves aimed at improving a roster that won 90 games, yet finished third in the AL East last season. “We left no stone unturned. We had a plan coming in when the offseason started and I think we nailed it pretty well.”
Besides acquiring Escobar in a trade, the Rays also signed first baseman James Loney and second baseman Kelly Johnson to shore up the infield. Pitchers James Shields and Wade Davis were dealt to Kansas City in a deal that brought the Rays several highly regarded minor league prospects, including outfielder Wil Myers.
Poor attendance remains a sore point, but Sternberg wasn’t complaining Sunday, when he noted the team’s payroll of just over $60 million remains higher than it should be for a team that drew a major league-low 1,559,681 to Tropicana Field in 2012.
Nevertheless, the owner said it’s not totally out of the question that the Rays could find a way to sign Price, the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, to a long-term contract.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman previously “said, and correctly, there’s no question we could handle a contract like David’s. But what are you going to be able to put around him?” Sternberg said, declining to speculate on what the team eventually will do with Price, who’s set to earn $10.125 million this season.
“Right now, and correctly, David is focused on this season. We’re focused on this season, and I think speculatively it really is way too early for people to be focused on what’s three or four years from now,” Sternberg said. “But obviously David is an enormous part of this organization, and has been so throughout all the success.”