BALTIMORE - David Ortiz stuck around long enough yesterday to watch Manny Ramírez hit his 501st home run, one of three homers the Sox hit in a 9-4 spanking of the Baltimore Orioles, and while Ortiz reacted with his customary embrace of the left fielder, you might hear the sound of just one hand clapping in the immediate future.
Ortiz, who did not play yesterday, is scheduled to return to Boston today for additional tests on his injured left wrist, including a magnetic resonance imaging to check for possible ligament damage. Even without Ortiz, the Sox, with Mike Lowell and J.D. Drew adding home runs to Ramírez's among the team's 16 hits, never were threatened by the Orioles, who are in danger of being swept four straight by Boston in a series that wraps around to tonight's finale.
The Orioles only intermittently were a nuisance to Bartolo Colon, who was staked to a 7-1 lead by the fourth inning, pitched into the seventh, and has won all three of his starts for the Sox this season. The Sox won without manager Terry Francona, who was back in Boston attending his daughter Leah's graduation from Brookline High School, but remain a game behind Tampa Bay in the AL East, the Rays having won their third straight from the Central-leading White Sox.
"After the game I had four or five messages from him," said Brad Mills, the bench coach who came away with a win for the first time in the three games he has substituted for Francona, having filled in for two losses here last month when Francona's mother-in-law died. "It was good. He was flying back [last night], and this should round out his day and make it a little nicer for him."
But while Ortiz was in high spirits before the game, loudly and profanely declaiming on Ramírez's Hall of Fame credentials, his fielding, and other topics, the Sox are faced with the possibility of an indefinite separation from their designated hitter, who ranks third in the American League in home runs with 13, including the three he hit in the first nine games of this 10-game trip.
For now, the team is calling the injury a strain.
"I don't have any swelling," said Ortiz, who underwent treatment yesterday and sported a removable brace, "but there's a little click going on in there that's not normal."
Ortiz said he felt "a little pop" when he lined a 3-and-2 pitch foul in the ninth inning of Boston's 6-3 win Saturday night. "I've never felt anything like it, and I've been swinging my whole life."
Some players, like Drew, have injured their wrists while checking their swings. "That's what the doctors told me, too," Ortiz said. "But this was a full, Big Papi swing. I took my normal swing, and 'pop.' "
Ortiz has some experience with wrist injuries. He has broken his right wrist twice, in 1998 and 2001, 10 years ago fracturing the hamate bone in his right wrist while in the act of hitting. A cracked hamate, a small hook-like bone, is the same injury second baseman Dustin Pedroia played with in September and through the playoffs last season before undergoing offseason surgery. That injury was detected after Pedroia underwent an MRI and bone scan. Other players, including Ortiz in '98, have missed a couple of months or more after surgery to remove the bone.
Mills said after yesterday's game that a fractured hamate tentatively had been ruled out, pending the outcome of today's tests.
"Hopefully, it's nothing major," said Drew, who recently missed games because of dizziness but drove in three runs with his fifth home run, a sacrifice fly, and single, also walked, and made a skidding catch of Luke Scott's liner to end an Orioles uprising in the seventh.
"People don't realize how such a small intricate part of your body has a huge impact on what you do," said Drew, who also has had wrist problems, once when he checked his swing and fractured a bone in his right wrist in 2001, the second time when he was hit by a pitch that fractured his left wrist, causing him to miss the last three months of the 2005 season with the Dodgers.
Ortiz, while mystified by the nature of his injury, did not seem overly concerned, perhaps because of the distraction provided by Ramírez, who Saturday night became the 24th player to hit 500 home runs in his career and yesterday followed with No. 501, a two-run shot just to the left of the right-field scoreboard. Two pitches later, Lowell followed with his seventh homer of the season, the Sox making short work of lefthander Brian Burres (4 IP, 12 H, 7 ER).
"Manny came in after [No. 500] and said, 'Finally, I'll be able to go to a restaurant and eat,' " Ortiz said. "I say, 'What do you mean?' He said, 'People were wearing me out, asking me when I'm going to hit it. Now I'm over with that [expletive].' "
Ramírez went on with Sox broadcaster Joe Castiglione yesterday morning. "I went [to the hotel] and went to bed like a regular day, and now I'm back here again," Ramírez said.
Lots of phone messages, Castiglione inquired.
"I left my phone in the clubhouse," he said. "I wanted to get some rest."
Ortiz, meanwhile, couldn't contain his glee at what Ramírez had done, joining Sammy Sosa as just one of two Dominican-born players to hit at least 500.
"I can tell people now I played with a Hall of Famer," Ortiz said, anticipating Ramírez's induction into Cooperstown. "A Hall of Famer is my boy.
"If you sit down and analyze it, this guy has played 2,000 games [2,005] and has hit 500 home runs. That means every four games he hits a home run. You know how hard that is? He's a bad [expletive]."
But after paying tribute to Ramírez's prowess, Ortiz soon was convulsed at the thought that Ramírez, because he doesn't care about such things, might skip his own induction ceremony. He mimicked Hall officials placing a call to Ramírez, perhaps in Brazil, the native land of his wife, Juliana, to see if he was coming.
Ramírez's response, in Ortiz's telling? "Just give it to Ino," Ortiz said, referring to Ino Guerrero, the Sox staffer who frequently pitches batting practice to Ramírez and Ortiz. "I'm busy here. Turn the page. I'm not playing anymore."