Ortiz targets Tuesday; Varitek, Nixon to come back

Updated: September 4, 2006, 1:00 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Heavy hearts in Red Sox Nation became a little lighter because of some encouraging medical reports.

David Ortiz
Ortiz

Boston slugger David Ortiz met with the Boston media on Saturday and proclaimed that doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital found nothing wrong with his heart during extensive testing this past week. The designated hitter had experienced heart palpitations at least twice in the past month, leaving his team in Oakland a week ago to fly back to Boston.

"I might pinch hit today," Ortiz told the assembled media before the Sox' 5-1 loss to Toronto on Saturday. "I feel that good, so we'll see. We'll see what the doctors say."

His doctors are taking a more cautious approach. The Boston Globe cited a Red Sox source who said Ortiz will play Tuesday, and doctors will continue to monitor his condition until then. Ortiz met with his teammates at Fenway Park on Saturday wearing what team doctor Thomas Gill called an "event monitor" that allows him to signal the hospital if he feels symptoms again.

The Red Sox got some more good news when manager Terry Francona said injured starters Trot Nixon and Jason Varitek were expected to return to the lineup on Monday and outfielder Manny Ramirez would possibly play as well.

But Ortiz's return to Fenway had an immediate impact on the team's mood.

"Just seeing the smile on his face made everyone feel a lot better," teammate Manny Delcarmen told the Boston Herald after Saturday's game. "We haven't seen him in a while. It's just been bad news after bad news. So it was great for us to see him, and that smile."

Gill and Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein accompanied the slugger on Saturday. When Ortiz said he'd be on the bench for that day's game, Gill replied, "We'll talk about that, David," and laughed.

The moment stood in stark contrast to the past week, in which Ortiz dealt with heart issues, Sox rookie Jon Lester was diagnosed with lymphoma, closer Jonathan Papelbon went down with fatigue, Curt Schilling missed a start and Manny Ramirez remained out of the lineup with a bad knee.

Ortiz said he was scared by the episodes.

"I freaked out because it was in my chest, close to my heart," he said, according to the Globe. "I had no idea where it was coming from. There are so many things going on with heart attacks and things like that, you don't want to miss a beat about anything. So we came down here and they took care of it."

Ortiz said he never felt pain and doctors treated the palpitations with medication, but Gill wouldn't reveal what was used.

"The doctors, they came to me and told me, 'Hey, your heart's fine. We're going to keep on tracking to see if you get that pain back. But we're not going to tell you that we're 100 percent sure that it had nothing to do with your heart, but we might be 97 percent sure that it doesn't have anything to do with your heart,'" Ortiz said.

That appears to be good enough for Big Papi.

"I'm not worried about it at all," Ortiz told the Herald. "I'm mentally fit to go out there and play. ... I think the guys at Mass. General did a pretty good job with me during the time I was there. I just hate the beds ... the beds weren't big enough for me."

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