When both Jacoby Ellsbury and Red Sox manager John Farrell said late last week that they expected him back in the lineup before the end of the season tongues wagged and skeptics hit the blogosphere hard. Five days later Ells and Farrell are looking more right than wrong as he continues to make solid progress.
After booting the foot for five days, Ellsbury started working out in the pool. This week Ellsbury was spotted hitting off a tee and throwing in the outfield. Ellsbury, rehabbing from a non-displaced fracture of the navicular bone in his right foot, has indeed started baseball activities in earnest. The Red Sox are hoping to get him back before the regular season ends so he can get some at-bats before the post-season begins.
Farrell was quoted in Alex Speier’s WEEI column saying, “A positive step. How quickly those activities will ramp up has yet to be determined. He’s begun them.” Sounds like Farrell has been taking media lesson from Bill Belichick.
The 30-year old Ellsbury, currently in the midst of a superb season, hitting .299 with a league-leading 52 stolen bases, is a free agent after the season and is expected to be among those players getting top dollar and the most options for employment. MLB.com’s Ian Browne has noted that the Sox won’t bite on the six or seven years that Ellsbury will likely want, having been down that long, expensive and tortured path most recently with Carl Crawford.
For sure baseball is a team sport and the Sox have proven they can win without Ellsbury. But the post season is a different animal. Teams need every advantage they can get just to make it to the World Series, never mind win it all. Ellsbury one of the key cogs in Boston’s go-go machine. They need him at the top of the order, getting on base and upsetting pitching rhythms to have their best chance of going deep into the playoffs.