Red Sox

Red Sox positioned to get Ramirez back, prevent Ortiz from playing first

Red Sox positioned to get Ramirez back, prevent Ortiz from playing first

SEATTLE -- With Hanley Ramirez experiencing better range of motion in his sprained left wrist, the Red Sox seem to be positioned to get Ramirez back into the lineup this weekend, and at the same time, avoid having to use David Ortiz at first base for the first time this season.

Ramirez, who suffered the sprain after slipping on the dugout steps following Tuesday's loss, continued to get treatment on the wrist Thursday and planned to take some swings in the cage before the Sox took on the Mariners for the final game of the series.

"He's improved today,'' said John Farrell of Ramirez. "The range of motion has improved to almost full range. Optimistically, he'd be available on the weekend when we go down to L.A. against the Dodgers.''

Asked about the availability of Ortiz at first this weekend, Farrell responded: "Again, we're hopeful that Hanley's going to get through this...Early planning would have Hanley at first base in each of those three games.''

That's especially so now that the Dodgers have plans to use three lefty starters this weekend, with Scott Kazmir set to go Friday night, Rich Hill (obtained earlier this week in a trade with Oakland) and a southpaw minor leaguer set to take the spot of Bud Norris Saturday.

Farrell said Wednesday that he would want to discuss playing first base with both the medical staff and Ortiz himself before committing to the idea.

Unlike in past seasons, Ortiz has not played an inning of first in the team's first four road interleague games in Atlanta and San Francisco. The Sox have six more road games in N.L. parks remaining on the schedule: three in Los Angeles beginning Friday and another three in San Diego starting on Labor Day.

The Sox have had to be more protective of Ortiz this season given that his ailing feet and heels are more problematic for him than ever before.

But Farrell conceded that the Sox are reluctant to ask Ortiz to do something he hasn't done since last year.

"At this point, probably,'' agreed Farrell. "I don't want to rule it out but I think there's a risk/reward that we would have to factor in heavily. No final determination has been made.''

When Farrell was asked if he had discussed the matter with Ortiz for his feedback, Farrell said: "We're still working through some of those (issues).''

Sean McAdam can be followed on Twitter: @Sean_McAdam

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

Strong Grapefruit League debut for Price

David Price's Grapefruit League debut was nearly perfect.

The Red Sox left-hander pitched four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and a walk and striking out five in a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fort Myers, Fla.

Price threw 55 pitches, 34 for strikes. He cruised through the first on nine pitches. He allowed the single and walk in the second.  

"It feels good. This is March 15 and I've never been able to have a four-pitch mix on March 15," Price told reporters after his start. "I've never been this far along in spring training even though I've only thrown in one game. I'm excited about that."

The Red Sox open March 29 at Tampa Bay, with Chris Sale likely to start. Price will likely pitch the second game of the season, March 30 at Tropicana Field.