ARLINGTON -- Though Ryan Lavarnway hasn't had a chance to catch in a game since being promoted from Triple-A Pawtucket to fill in for the ailing David Ortiz as designated hitter, he is getting plenty of tutorials from instructor Gary Tuck. Lavarnway has also absorbed as much as possible from Boston's catching tandem of Jason Varitek and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
In each of the last two days, Lavarnway came back to the clubhouse drenched in sweat about three hours before game-time.
"He's just working every day," said manager Terry Francona. "He's following 'Tek and Salty around in their meetings and trying to use this to his advantage. He's got free work days. That's got to be a good thing. When we were talking about the callups in September, that was one of the things about bringing him -- he'd have a month.
"I think he's supposed to play some winter ball. Working with Tuck before he went was really important, so now we have a free week and he needs to take advantage of it."
With Ortiz set to come back as early as Wednesday, the Red Sox will have a decision to make with Lavarnway: Do they send him back down to Pawtucket so he can play regularly for the rest of the Triple-A season and then return to Boston as a September callup, or does he just stay with the Red Sox?
"That's a good point," Francona said. "We've talked about that actually. I can tell you right now, and nothing against the organization, I would rather us win than [Pawtucket manager] Arnie [Beyeler]. Nothing against Arnie."
Lavarnway started for the sixth straight game at DH on Tuesday. In the first five, he is hitting .294 with two RBIs.
Ellsbury thrives in return; Papi back Wednesday
ARLINGTON -- Slowly but surely, the gang is coming back together. Jacoby Ellsbury returned from a three-game absence and helped ignite the Red Sox to an 11-5 victory over the Rangers on Tuesday night. David Ortiz, who has missed nine games, hopes to do the same when he starts on Wednesday.
As the late afternoon Texas heat hovered in the low 100s on Tuesday, Ortiz ran sprints in the outfield. That wound up being the final hurdle for a return to the lineup on Wednesday. In fact, manager Terry Francona said that Ortiz could have pinch-hit if necessary on Tuesday.
Ortiz was pleased the way the running session went, and he is confident that the right heel bursitis that has kept him out of the lineup the last nine games is about to become a thing of the past.
"I can be in the lineup right now," Ortiz said. "I can't be watching this [stuff] no more. But yeah, I've got to listen to what the doctor says, because I think I just have to stay on top of everything they tell me. This is something, if you don't do things exactly the way they say, it can catch up with you later on, so I don't want to be stupid."
Ellsbury had been sidelined with a back bruise after being hit by a pitch on Friday in Kansas City. He lined the second pitch of Tuesday's game into right field for a single. Ellsbury then stole second, moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on Adrian Gonzalez's two-run homer.
"Yeah, it was good to be back in the lineup and I just wanted to bring some energy to the lineup and I wanted to set the tone from the get-go," said Ellsbury.
Saltalamacchia impressing former manager
ARLINGTON -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the Rangers' Opening Day catcher last season, but a right shoulder injury and throwing problems cost him the job. He was traded to the Red Sox at the Trade Deadline last season and now he is playing regularly. He is also impressing his former manager."He's doing a real good job, you can tell," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He looks confident and he's over his throwing woes. He made a good throw [in Monday's game] to third and I was watching his throws to second. They were crisp and sharp. He's getting the ball back to the pitcher." Elvis Andrus tried to take advantage of Saltalamacchia on Monday, but it didn't work. Andrus was on first and Ian Kinsler was on third with one out in the third inning. Andrus and first-base coach Gary Pettis saw Saltalamacchia lobbing the ball back to the pitcher. Andrus decided to take advantage and try to steal second on the throw back to the pitcher. Instead, he went too early and Saltalamacchia picked him off first. "I went a little bit before, maybe a second before he threw the ball, and I was supposed to wait until he released the ball," Andrus said. "That's going to happen. I'm really aggressive on the bases, and I learn from that. Hopefully that doesn't happen again." Saltalamacchia said he thought Andrus was up to something. "Most guys, when you catch the ball, they try to run back," Andrus said. "They don't want to get picked off. He kind of stood there. In the back of the mind, I was like, if they try it, at least I can maybe pump fake and make him think ... if they do that again, make them think I'm throwing it to the pitcher and hopefully they go. And Elvis did. He stood off the bag, and I kind of faked it."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Rangers beat reporter T.R. Sullivan contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.