- Associated Press - Thursday, February 17, 2011

FORT MYERS, FLA. (AP) - David Ortiz and Carl Crawford took their first swings of the spring. Adrian Gonzalez shouldn’t be far behind.

The left-handed stars in a power-packed lineup worked out in camp together on Thursday, all sporting their clean Boston Red Sox uniforms that few opposing pitchers will be excited to see.

Ortiz and Crawford reported earlier in the day. Gonzalez, who has taken part in non-hitting drills for several days, expects to get clearance to swing the bat in about a week once his surgically repaired right shoulder is re-examined.

Add them to Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury _ all healthy again after missing long stretches last season _ and the Red Sox should produce plenty of runs.


“It will be crazy. You have a lot of good hitters, one behind another,” Ortiz said with a smile. “So, I don’t think I’m going to be the guy that people are going to have to worry about right now.”

Pitchers had an easy time with him in the early part of the past two seasons anyway. He struggled badly, leading to speculation that the Red Sox might even release him. But he rebounded both times with 28 homers and 99 RBIs in 2009 and 32 homers and 102 RBIs in 2010.

At times, though, he wasn’t his usual amiable self _ the man who walked into the clubhouse on Thursday, loudly greeting and hugging teammates and bringing smiles to their faces.

“I kind of snapped a little bit at the beginning of the season,” Ortiz said. “It was because I don’t think it was fair after the second game of the season people having doubts on you. … All I need to do is not think about it.

“I’m not planning on putting pressure on myself as the season starts. I’m preparing myself right now the way I can go through the season with a full tank.”

Manager Terry Francona said it was difficult dealing with the early-season slump of a player who had been so good for so many years and was popular with fans.

“I second guessed a lot of nights what to do, what not to do,” he said.

Now, having so many good hitters surrounding Ortiz in the lineup should help. Gonzalez feels the same about himself.

“Hopefully, I’ll be able to get more pitches in the strike zone to hit and that’ll make me a better hitter,” Gonzalez said, “but I think for the most part, just being able to have guys on base all the time and having that fifth, sixth at bat in a game is going to help a lot.”

The Red Sox could open the season with the first six spots in the lineup filled by Ellsbury, Pedroia, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youkilis and Ortiz. All have hit .300 at least once and Ellsbury and Crawford have multiple 50-steal seasons.

On Thursday, newcomers Crawford and Gonzalez peppered Ortiz with questions as they stood in the outfield while teammates took batting practice.

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