Notes: Big Papi in good shape

Notes: Big Papi in good shape already

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Now that he's on the wrong side of 30, Red Sox slugger David Ortiz knows that he's going to have to push himself a little harder. The 2006 season had barely ended when Ortiz, fresh off a club record of 54 home runs, modified his workout routine.

Big Papi hit the weights and he hit them hard. He worked with some new personal trainers. Now, he looks fitter and feels stronger.

Ortiz was asked if he noticed a difference during early rounds of batting practice.

"It feels good, like a little bit more powerful extension," said Ortiz.

That is the last thing opposing pitchers want to be hearing this time of year.

Considering the type of success Ortiz has had his first four years in Boston, nobody would have said anything if he didn't make any modifications over the winter. But the fact that he did, speaks volumes.

"He did a great job early on when the season was over; he got after it right away," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "You could see him noticeably, as the winter progressed, losing that weight. He did a very good job. We had talked to him about it at the end of the season. We had a discussion in my office one night, I said, 'I think this would be good for you.' You don't have to tell David things too many times."

Ortiz is taking his new physique in stride.

"It's good to be in good shape, I guess -- not only with what you do on the field, but your whole thinking of what you want to do," Ortiz said. "I trained with a couple of different guys. It was a little bit more heavy duty."

He has not changed his diet. Ortiz confessed that he still dines on a steady array of chicken, rice and beans.

Soon, when the games begin for real, those menu items will be complemented on a nightly basis by fastballs, curves and sliders. Ortiz hopes to have the same type of feast on those offerings as he has in the past.

"We'll see, if I hit less homers than last year, I might go back to being super-fat," quipped Ortiz. "It's good for my health. I turned 31 this offseason. Now, it's a whole different process."

Lester keeping right up: Francona said that left-hander Jon Lester, who spent the winter undergoing chemotherapy treatments, would be held back when or if the need arises. Thus far, Lester is cruising right along with the rest of the starting pitchers.

Francona watched Lester throw batting practice Saturday.

"Lester was tremendous," Francona said. "We will certainly keep an eye on him; I think we owe him that. But no, he's on the same program everybody else is on. He hasn't backed off; he's not throwing less pitches. He's doing everything everybody else is."

Schill and Beckett look sharp: With all the attention focused on Daisuke Matsuzaka, it was easy to lose sight of the fact that Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett also threw live batting practice.

Outfielder David Murphy faced them both.

"Schilling's thing for me is he has so many different pitches," Murphy said. "He has movement on all of his pitches. He's got a curveball, slider, cutter; his splitter is obviously devastating. Both of those guys, for this early in camp, they're hitting their spots and doing what they need to do."

Schilling has been trying to refine his changeup so it can become more of a weapon.

"He threw some good ones and some he left up," Francona said. "You can see him thinking about it as he's throwing it and trying to get it to where he wants to go. I know that was a goal of his early on to get that changeup as a pitch he can go to. You could see him trying to do that."

Short hops: Francona was feeling better after missing Friday's workout with the flu. How did he spend his sick day? "I actually spent the day watching -- I hate to admit this -- the Anna Nicole Smith trial. I was looking to see if Manny [Ramirez] showed up," quipped Francona. "That was some kind of trial." ... Right-hander Craig Hansen hasn't been able to throw the last couple of days because of back stiffness. Francona described it as minor. ... Matt Clement was outdoors and in uniform for the first time this spring, and he should be able to start throwing next week. "He has to pass one more strength test. And then, he'll have the clearance to start throwing next week. He's done a great job," credited Francona.

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