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04/12/10 6:19 PM ET

Ortiz appreciates Twins' new ballpark

DH wishes Puckett could have witnessed Target Field opening

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was obvious which Boston player had the most appreciation for the opening of Target Field on Monday. Before David Ortiz became a star with the Red Sox, he broke in with the Minnesota Twins, playing his home games at the Metrodome from 1997-2002.

"I remember when I was here, people were talking about coming out with a new stadium -- 14 years ago," Ortiz said. "And they finally came out with it. But I think it's the perfect time. It can't get any better, with the team that they have."

The only thing that saddened Ortiz on Monday is that his good friend -- the late, great Kirby Puckett -- couldn't be on hand to witness the unveiling of the new park.

"I was talking to my boy about it yesterday, and today, when I was driving in, just how great he was for this Twins organization and everything he did," said Ortiz. "And all the good things that I saw that he did, to be a better baseball player. That's one of the main reasons that I wear 34, is for him. Yeah, I thought about him a lot today."

Ortiz entered Monday's game in the throes of an early-season slump. He struck out four times on Sunday, and came to Minnesota with a .111 average. However, Ortiz denied an assertion in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune that his wrist is bothering him.

"Don't listen to what people say," Ortiz said. "I feel good, man."

Did manager Terry Francona think about sitting Ortiz on Monday?

"You know what? Like I always do, when I woke up hourly, I thought about a lot of things," Francona said. "I'm trying to just be patient, especially with Jacoby [Ellsbury] out. [Bench coach] DeMarlo [Hale] and I sat around yesterday looking at a lot of different things."

Ortiz batted fifth, as he has in all six of his starts this season. The designated hitter was not in the lineup on Saturday. After striking out in his first at-bat, he hit an RBI double in the fourth inning.

Ellsbury may return to action Wednesday

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup for Monday afternoon's debut of Target Field, but the leadoff man is confident that he will be able to return to the lineup in a matter of days. Ellsbury, whose left ribs absorbed a knee by third baseman Adrian Beltre, did not rule out being back in there by Wednesday.

The Red Sox and Twins are off on Tuesday.

"[Wednesday] is definitely a possibility," said Ellsbury. "But then again, I'm not sure. From yesterday to today, not too much changed. But I feel pretty good. There's no sharp pain or anything like that."

Ellsbury isn't taking any medication at this point, because he wants to give the training staff a proper gauge of how he is feeling without masking the pain.

"Maybe Wednesday or something, I'll get on some stuff," said Ellsbury. "Right now, I'll try to fight through it as much as possible so I can kind of inform them how I feel and we can do the necessary treatment that way."

Red Sox manager Terry Francona feared something was seriously wrong with Ellsbury in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

"I got nervous yesterday when he was in the dugout, because he was bent over and he was coughing," Francona said. "I don't know anything about medicine, but you didn't know if it was a lung. We really caught a break."

Knowing that he came just inches from a major injury, Ellsbury will gladly tolerate the pain for a few days.

"I feel pretty fortunate nothing is broken, with me coming in hard and him coming out and me taking a knee, that was probably the worst thing you can take," said Ellsbury. "But I think he got me kind of more in the chest area -- my chest helped. If it was directly in the rib, I think it would have been a lot worse. It's a little swollen, but it's mainly the rotation and reaching up in my arm. I guess how it looked and how we collided, I feel pretty fortunate."

Shortstop Marco Scutaro took Ellsbury's place in the leadoff spot while Jeremy Hermida batted ninth and started in left field.

Hermida taking advantage of playing time

MINNEAPOLIS -- After serving as a reserve for the first four games, Monday marked the third consecutive game that Jeremy Hermida was in the starting lineup. This time, he was in left field, spotting Jacoby Ellsbury, who has bruised left ribs.

Hermida has given the Sox some early thump and was hitting .375 with a homer and three RBIs entering his Monday start.

When David Ortiz was ejected on Friday night, Hermida came off the bench and belted a single to right in his first at-bat.

"I know as an extra player, he got in that first night against Kansas City and got that base hit, I think that really helps you," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "You can't hang your hat on that, but I think it really relaxes you a little bit. Those at-bats for guys are really important."

Hermida has been a regular for most of his career, but he knows what the Red Sox got him for.

"It's the role I'm going to be taking on here," said Hermida. "I'll play when someone is banged up a little or needs a day off, so I'll go with it when the opportunity is there. [At-bats are] always good. I'm not going to turn them down. It's always good to get in there, and especially a couple of days in a row, get the timing there and carry it with you for a little while."

Though not all players are cut out to thrive in the challenging role of coming off the bench, Francona is confident Hermida can make the adjustment.

"I think I said it in Spring Training -- he's going to be one of our guys that hits a lot [in the cage] just because I think he likes it," Francona said. "He took the [simulated] game against [Clay Buchholz] to use it to his advantage."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.