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07/07/08 5:49 PM ET

Papi takes BP for first time since injury

Red Sox slugger playing it smart with his left wrist

BOSTON -- With a smile grinning from ear to ear, David Ortiz stepped onto the field at Fenway Park, bat in hand, and took cuts prior to the Red Sox's game against the Twins on Monday.

And while Ortiz admits there is no firm timetable on his return to the lineup, taking batting practice is certainly a promising sign. Ortiz laced liners to right and center field, and he even hit a collection of home runs into the Fenway seats.

It was Ortiz's first time batting on the field since he suffered a partially torn sheath tendon in his left wrist on May 31. Ortiz hit in the cage at Yankee Stadium on Sunday, another step up from taking just soft toss and hitting off a tee, but Monday was his first time in the box.

Sunday's workout was, according to Ortiz and manager Terry Francona, an encouraging outing.

"When I start swinging, I get a little sore, and then when I keep going, I start feeling better and better," Ortiz said. "It's just like in this type of particular injury, that's the way it goes."

Francona said getting Ortiz into the batting cage in New York was predicated on making sure he wouldn't be rushed in the midst of his workout. Being on the road, Boston does not have the luxury of early batting practice, meaning the Sox don't have extra time to allow him to ease into his hitting regimen.

"He took some swings, and that was actually planned," Francona said. "He doesn't need to have his first time swinging, first of all when we don't have early BP and in New York. That doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

"We don't have the ability to slow things down. He'll be in the last hitting group today -- we're home, we have a little longer."

Meanwhile, Ortiz finds himself needing to be rational about his recovery in the midst of a stint where Boston is slipping behind Tampa Bay in the American League East standings.

"It's hard, man, it's hard," Ortiz said. "You want to be out there in those series. But that said, I have to be patient. I don't want to be stupid about coming back. I don't want to come back and not be ready and get things worse."

Ortiz said the injury is complicated, because the longer he goes without swinging and using the wrist, the better it heals. But maintaining a steady progress toward facing live pitching is important, too.

"That's how it goes," Ortiz said. "This kind of injury is tricky. You've got to be smart about it."

Mark Remme is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.