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What Shaquille O’Neal told David Ortiz about Achilles injuries

03.09.13 at 8:25 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — From the time that he suffered his Achilles injury last July, David Ortiz has been seeking answers. He’s talked to fellow baseball players (most recently, discovering that former Red Sox All-Star Dwight Evans spent years managing his Achilles injuries) but, by and large, he’s found that problems in the region have been far more common to NBA players given the pounding that their enormous frames take while running and jumping up and down the hardwood.

And perhaps no player better embodies the idea of a giant placing immense stress on his Achilles than retired great Shaquille O’Neal. O’Neal, Ortiz said, was often in the Boston area last year, following a final NBA season in 2010-11 that was spent with the Celtics, only to be cut short when he could not return from an Achilles injury that ultimately resulted in career-ending surgery.

When Ortiz was initially dealing with his injury last year, still wearing an immobilizing boot while in the Boston area, he ran into the 19-year NBA veteran.

“I bumped into him while I was wearing the boot,” said Ortiz. “We just talked about the first time he started getting pain. He struggled with that. He was a big guy who, when he was doing things, moving around, he was doing damage. At some point, he had to go in and fix it.”

That, Ortiz said, differentiates him from the former Celtics great. (So, too, did O’Neal’s decision to publicize video of his surgery. “Disgusting,” Ortiz said, with a mix of awe and revulsion.) Still, O’Neal did have some practical advice to give the Red Sox slugger.

“Big guys, that kind of injury, we carry more weight. You use your Achilles for everything. There’s nothing you do without using your Achilles, so it definitely takes longer than if a little guy injures his Achilles,” said Ortiz. “So, just be smart about it. you don’t want to get it worse. That’s the same thing I’ve been hearing from everybody.”

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