ST. PETERSBURG -- As it turns out, the day off that David Ortiz had on Sunday -- which preceded the team's day off on Monday -- wasn't exclusively just to get him a rest.
It turns out the slugger has been bothered of late by a left oblique injury he first felt when the Red Sox were in Texas from May 3-5.
"A little bit," Ortiz said after the Red Sox's 5-3 loss to the Rays on Tuesday. "A little bit of tightness in my left oblique. It wasn't bothering me that much, but it was still bothering me a little bit. That's why I've been kind of pulling everything it feels like, but hopefully it doesn't get any worse."
The injury didn't appear to impact Ortiz in the first inning Tuesday night, when he walloped a prodigious three-run homer to right against Rays lefty Matt Moore.
"I'm going to keep on playing with it. It's not at a point where it gets any worse," Ortiz said. "But yeah, it bothers me on some swings that I take -- like last week, I was watching some videos, outside pitches that I was kind of pulling, and when you get to the point where you want to drive the ball the other way and next thing you know you're hooking the ball, that's not normal. You know what I'm saying? That had a lot to do with it. Hopefully it gets better."
After missing the first three weeks of the season due to his rehab from a right Achilles injury, Ortiz has no interest in taking any more time off -- particularly when his team is in a funk.
"What do you think? I've got to play," Ortiz said. "I have enough time off. I just come in early and treat it, then try to move forward."
Bailey takes step forward with bullpen session
ST. PETERSBURG -- Closer Andrew Bailey will likely be activated at some point during the Red Sox's three-city, nine-game road trip that opened on Tuesday night.
Bailey threw a 20-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday, his first since going on the disabled list with a right biceps strain.
He will throw a simulated game at Tropicana Field on Thursday. After that, Bailey will either make one Minor League rehab appearance over the weekend or join the Sox for the three-game series against the Twins.
"Another step in the right direction," said Bailey. "Everything felt great. I mixed in curveballs, cutter, changeups. A couple of everything. I think right now it's a baseball thing. We're moving in the right direction."
Bailey sounds as if he'd rather forgo a Minors appearance, while manager John Farrell seems to be leaning toward it. At any rate, Bailey should be activated, at the very latest, by Monday, when the Red Sox open a three-game series in Chicago.
Why does Farrell think a Minors appearance would be beneficial for Bailey, who last pitched on April 28?
"I think it's just to get additional adrenaline into some kind of game activity," Farrell said. "It's going to be somewhat sterile here at 2:30 in the afternoon on Thursday. To take it for a test run, I would think would be helpful and to answer any questions that Andrew might have when he steps on with the adrenaline within a given game."
However, Bailey will play a role in the decision.
"Well, by rights, he could refuse it, so we know that fully," said Farrell. "And the one thing that he's been great about in this situation is giving the feedback on how he feels and having input into the overall plan going forward and so far it's been positive and he's responded to every progressive step favorably."
With Joel Hanrahan down for the season, the Red Sox badly need Bailey back in the bullpen.
Victorino ready to go following collision
ST. PETERSBURG -- The one thing the Red Sox have learned early in Shane Victorino's tenure with the team is that it takes a lot to keep him out of the lineup.
Two days after what looked like a severe collision with the visitors' bullpen wall at Fenway, Victorino was right back in manager John Farrell's lineup on Tuesday night, batting second against the Rays.
Victorino 1, Red Sox bullpen wall 0?
"I wouldn't say I won the battle," Victorino said. "No, it feels good. My body feels good. I'm not trying to do that again, but I was just trying to make the play. But I feel good physically and ready to go tonight."
Following Sunday's game, Victorino was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital for tests. He passed all of them.
"The way he bounced off [the wall], it looked ugly at the time," Farrell said, "but every image, every test that we put him through, he's 100 percent given where he's at. No fractures or any injuries of any kind. He's ready to go tonight."
Victorino is a fan of the padding that has been added to the outfield walls at Fenway over the years.
"It definitely worked," said Victorino. "I'm excited to be back out there and not miss any games."
Victorino hasn't seen the play.
"I tried not to watch the replay," Victorino said. "Obviously I had to get my eye on [the ball]. There was a scary crash. Obviously where a bullpen of an opposing team runs over to you, gets up off the bench, you obviously understand there was some concern. I thank those guys [on the Blue Jays] for getting up and making sure I was all right."
With Ross on DL, Lavarnway makes first start
ST. PETERSBURG -- With catcher David Ross sidelined for the next few days following a concussion, Ryan Lavarnway made his first Major League start of 2013 on Tuesday against the Rays.
Lavarnway got the start against lefty phenom Matt Moore.
"I'm looking forward to him being able to carry over the work he's been doing in Triple-A, both in terms of handling the game, throwing people out," said manager John Farrell. "And he's been swinging the bat much better over the last three to four weeks. He's going to be called upon to produce."
The Red Sox also face a top-notch lefty on Wednesday in David Price, but it sounds like Jarrod Saltalamacchia will be back in the lineup for that one.
Hitting lefties is not a strength for the switch-hitting Saltalamacchia, but Farrell sees other reasons to start his No. 1 catcher against Price.
"We balance it with the way he and Jon [Lester] have worked together. We balance it with the different style with Moore and Price," Farrell said. "Moore is more of a high fastball pitcher, and Ryan is more equipped to handle that type of guy. Salty is a guy that has handled some left-handed pitchers when they're down in the zone, so right now there's every indication that Salty will be behind the plate [Wednesday]."
Though Ross is eligible to come off the disabled list by Sunday, the Red Sox know that you can never rush a concussion.
"We're still taking this very much day to day," Farrell said. "He'll get reexamined in Boston over the next couple of days before rejoining us in Minnesota. There's no template on these, when the symptoms start to progress. Yesterday was a tougher day for him with some of those symptoms, so we've got to work off him in this. He'll be fully evaluated in Boston. Where we go from there will be dependent upon the diagnosis and the recommendations of the doctors there."