Sitting in the Red Sox dugout before yesterday's game, his injured right heel still encased in a protective boot, David Ortiz came face to face with a young fan.

"I heard that you're the best player," the boy said.

"Ooh, thanks," Ortiz said with a big smile. "Tell that to Larry Lucchino!"

Seriously, though, that's what this is about now. Amid the will-he-or-won't-he game of guessing whether the Red Sox' most feared slugger plays again in the next three largely meaningless weeks — manager Bobby Valentine conceded yesterday that he "would assume" Ortiz will be shut down — the designated hitter's focus has shifted to regaining his health in order to be an offensive force again next season.