BOSTON -- Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury may return to the lineup as early as Wednesday in Colorado.
Ellsbury and manager John Farrell confirmed that contest against the Rockies as a target for his comeback from a compression fracture in his right foot. Ellsbury has been increasing baseball activities in recent days and is on the cusp of being completely ready to contribute once again.
“We talked about [Wednesday] as a possibility. Yeah, I’m definitely ahead of schedule,” Ellsbury said Sunday before Boston’s home finale against Toronto.
There is no designated hitter in the two games in Colorado, so if Ellsbury returns then he will be playing the field. Farrell indicated that it may not be a full game, but more a matter of getting his speedy leadoff hitter back into the routine.
“The work that he’s going trough right now, the baseball activities have been ramped up. There’s been no setbacks, obiously,” Farrell said. “[Wednesday is] an optimistic view but hopefully we’ll be able to get him some at-bats that day.”
The Sox are off Thursday, so if Ellsbury is not ready by Wednesday he might target the opener of a three-game set in Baltimore on Friday.
Ellsbury has been running and hitting this weekend. He said he hopes to test any and all baseball-related actions prior to his return, including breaks from a stand-still into a full sprint like he would experience in center field or on base.
“The goal is to do it before I play, that’d be the goal, to try to get all of that out of the way before I get back in a game,” he said.
Ellsbury, who suffered the injury in late-August before being shelved earlier this month, is confident he will be at 100 percent by the time the postseason rolls around. While he wants to test those breaks to make sure that the foot feels fine, he does not feel a need to steal bases just for the sake of stealing bases. Ellsbury rarely steals bags in spring training games and, as he pointed out Sunday, he never has any issues once the regular season rolls around.
Similarly, Ellsbury expects no issues at the plate.
“I think my timing will still be there. I think it’s there now,” he said.
Ellsbury, who last played Sept. 5, is hitting .299 with an American League-leading 52 stolen bases in 131 games.